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Abraham. Lincoln 


Coles County, Illinois 

The Coles County Lawyer, 1846. 

The earliest known picture of Abraham Lincoln. The original 
daguerreotype probably was made by N. H. Shepherd in Spring- 
field in 1846, at a time when Lincoln had an active Coles County 
law practice. Robert Todd Lincoln believed the picture was 
taken in Washington in 1848. 

From (Frederick Hill Meserve and Carl Sandburg: The Photo- 
graphs of Abraham Lincoln. New York, Harcourt, Brace and 
Co., 1944. Photograph Number One. Used by permission of 
Dr. Frederick Hill Meserve.) 

Abraham Lincoln 


Coles County, Illinois 

Charles H. Coleman 

Professor of Social Science, 

Eastern Illinois State College 

at Charleston, 

Scarecrow Press 

New Brunswick, New Jersey 


Copyright 1955, by Charles H. Coleman 

"1 3.1 LU3 kf^cv^H 

C 3 C (pi a. f\oo^\ 


Introduction vii 

Genealogical tables x 

From Indiana to Illinois in 1830 1 

Across Coles County 9 

Abraham's Visit to His Folks in 1831 19 

The Thomas Lincoln Family at Muddy Point ... 28 

The Goosenest Prairie Homes of the Lincolns ... 35 

Abraham Lincoln's Coles County Family .... 50 

Lincoln's Concern for His Coles County Relatives . . 61 

Abraham Lincoln's Coles County Law Practice ... 80 

The Matson Slave Case 104 

Orlando B. Ficklin and Usher F. Linder . . . .112 

Was Lincoln a Swedenborgian? 125 

The Death of Thomas Lincoln 128 

Lincoln Protects the Interests of His Stepmother . . 142 

Lincoln and Coles County Politics, 1849-1858 . . .157 

The Charleston Debate 173 

The President-elect Visits Coles County 191 

President Lincoln and His Coles County Relatives and 

Friends 211 

President Lincoln and the Charleston Rioters . . . 226 

A Charleston Adviser to the President 234 

In Conclusion 238 


Chronology: The Lincolns in Coles County, 1830- 1869 . 240 

Locations in Coles County Associated with Abraham 

Lincoln 245 

Sources of Information 248 


The Coles County Lawyer, 1846 Frontispiece 

The Goosenest Prairie cabin of Thomas Lincoln . . 36 

Mrs. Sarah Bush Johnston Lincoln 51 

Photograph of Abraham Lincoln made on January 26, 1861 170 


The Lincoln Party Across Coles County, March 10-12, 1830 8 

Thomas Lincoln's Homes in Pleasant Grove Township, 

Coles County 27 

The Eighth Judicial Circuit, 1847-1853 ..... 79 

Lincoln's Last Visit to Coles County 190 


Genealogical tables showing family relationships . . x 

Real Estate transactions in Coles County involving Thomas 

Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln and John D. Johnston . 25 


Coles County, in east-central Illinois, does not claim Abraham 
Lincoln as a resident. While Lincoln was living in New Salem 
and in Springfield, Coles County was the home of his father and 
stepmother, Thomas and Sarah Bush Lincoln. 

We speak of Coles County, "Buckle on the Corn Belt," where 
Abraham Lincoln was known and loved while he lived as in few 
other communities apart from his home county of Sangamon. 

We speak of Abraham Lincoln, frequent visitor, the pride of 
his Coles County parents, first driving an ox-team across the 
county when barely twenty-one years of age; then returning 
frequently, his maturity and his reputation growing visit by visit 
— the vigorous young wrestler throwing the local champion, the 
young lawyer trying his wings in the small brick courthouse in 
Charleston, the aspiring politician mingling with the crowd on 
the dusty square, the helpful son and stepson, sharing a growing 
prosperity with elderly parents and impecunious relatives. 

Here lived, in addition to his parents, his stepbrother John 
and his stepsisters, Sarah Elizabeth and Matilda, with their 
families. Here lived Dennis Hanks, Abraham's second cousin 
and boyhood companion, husband of Sarah Elizabeth. Dennis' 
daughter Harriet lived with the Lincolns in Springfield for about 
a year and a half. She probably was the only Coles County rela- 
tive to see Lincoln in Springfield. It was at her home that Lincoln 
spent his last night in Charleston. 

Lincoln formed lasting friendships with legal and political 
figures in the county. Among these were Thomas A. Marshall, 
lawyer, banker, and prominent Republican; Usher F. Linder, 
lawyer, orator, and Democrat, and Orlando B. Ficklin, lawyer 
and Democratic Congressman. 

Charleston in 1858 was the scene of the fourth Lincoln-Douglas 
debate. It was to Charleston that Lincoln made his last trip from 
Springfield before going to Washington in 1861 to assume the 
burden of the presidency. He came to bid his stepmother good- 
bye. His father had died ten years earlier at the family home at 
Goosenest Prairie in the southern part of the county. 


With Lincoln's parents and other relatives living in Coles 
County, his visits kept green his memories of his boyhood days in 
Kentucky and Indiana. Here, grown to manhood and woman- 
hood, lived the children with whom he had grown up, the play- 
mates of his youth. 

Lincoln's affection for the humble folk of Goosenest Prairie 
and Charleston did not lessen as he achieved prominence as a 
lawyer and distinction as a statesman. His relations with them 
during the thirty-four years he lived apart demonstrates as much 
as any feature of his life the essential democracy of Abraham 


During the five years of investigation and writing behind the 
present work, the author received assistance in varied forms from 
some three score individuals and institutions. The references to 
that assistance which appear in the notes give some idea of the 
extent of the author's debt to others. In the cases of twenty in- 
dividuals, however, a more personal word of appreciation is in 
order. Their assistance and encouragement made the present 
work possible. 

Dr. Byron K. Barton, The Eastern Illinois State College at 

Dr. Roy P. Basler, formerly, The Abraham Lincoln Association. 

Mr. Clarence W. Bell, Mattoon, Illinois. 

Dr. Robert L. Blair, The Eastern Illinois State College. 

Mr. C. C. Burford, Urbana, Illinois. 

Mr. William F. Cavins, Lansing, Illinois. 

Mr. Elmer Elston, County Clerk, Coles County, Illinois. 

Mrs. John H. Marshall, Charleston, Illinois. 

Dr. J. Monaghan, former Illinois State Historian. 

Miss Margaret C. Norton, Illinois State Archivist. 

Dr. C. Percy Powell, The Library of Congress. 

Dr. Harry E. Pratt, Illinois State Historian. 

Mrs. Harry E. Pratt, The Abraham Lincoln Association. 

Dr. James G. Randall, The University of Illinois. Deceased. 

Mrs. James G. Randall, Urbana, Illinois. 

Mr. George P. Rodgers, Pleasant Grove Township, Coles 

Mr. Samuel S. Sargent, Hutton Township, Coles County. 

Mr. Joseph F. Snyder, Circuit Clerk, Coles County. 

Dr. S. E. Thomas, The Eastern Illinois State College, Emeritus. 

Dr. Louis A. Warren, The Lincoln National Life Foundation, 
For Wayne, Indiana. 


The following individuals and publishers generously gave per- 
mission to quote from the books indicated: 

Dr. Bruce Barton. William E. Barton: The Paternity of Abra- 
ham Lincoln. New York, George HL Doran Co., 1920. 

Mrs. Eleanor C. Robinson. Eleanor Atkinson: The Boyhood 
of Lincoln. New York, Doubleday, 1910. 

Mrs. Queen Gridley Thomas. Eleanor Gridley: The Story of 
Abraham Lincoln. Chicago, M. A. Donahue, 1927. 

Appleton-Century-Crofts, Inc. William H. Herndon and Jesse 
W. Weik: Abraham Lincoln. The True Story of a Great 
Life. Two vols., 1928. 

The Caxton Printers, Ltd. Henry C. Whitney: Life on the Cir- 
cuit With Lincoln. 1940. 

Dodd, Mead and Co. John W. Starr: Lincoln and the Rail- 
roads. 1927. 

Harcourt, Brace and Co. Carl Sandburg: Lincoln Collector. 

Harper and Brothers. Lexv Wallace: An Autobiography. Two 
vols., 1906. 

Henry Holt and Co. L. White Busbey: Uncle Joe Cannon. 

Houghton Mifflin Co. Albert J. Beveridge: Abraham Lincoln. 
Four vols., 1928. Also, Jesse W. Weik: The Real Lincoln, A 
Portrait. 1932. 

Liveright Publishing Corp. Emanuel Hertz: Abraham Lincoln. 
A New Portrait. Two vols., 1931. Also, Herndon s Life of 
Lincoln. 1930. 

Rutgers University Press. The Collected Works of Abraham 
Lincoln. Eight vols., 1953. Roy P. Basler, Marion D. Pratt 
and Lloyd Dunlap, editors. Copyright 1953 by The Abraham 
Lincoln Association. 

Thanks also are due to Dr. Frederick Hill Meserve for per- 
mission to use three photographs from Frederick H. Meserve and 
Carl Sandburg: The Photographs of Abraham Lincoln. New 
York, Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1944. Dr. Meserve kindly furn- 
ished prints for this purpose. 

Footnote citations have been kept as simple as possible. Works 
are cited for the first time by author and title; thereafter by 
author only or by an abbreviated title. For full listing the reader 
is referred to the "Sources of Information" in the Appendix. 

For quotations from Lincoln's writings, The Collected Works 
of Abraham Lincoln (1953) have been used in preference to other 
printed collections. 


Genealogical Tables 


Joseph Hanks (1725-1793) m. Ann Lee (1724-d. after 1794). 

Among their five sons and four daughters were: Lucy (c. 1765- 

c. 1825), Elizabeth (1771-1818), William ( ? -c. 1851) and Nancy. 

Lucy Hanks, daughter of Joseph Hanks, m. (1791) Henry 

Sparrow (1765-1844). They had four sons and four daughters. 

Lucy also was the mother of 

Nancy Hanks (c. 1784-1818) m. (1806) Thomas Lincoln (1778- 
1851). They had three children: Sarah (1807-1828), Abra- 
ham (1809-1865) and Thomas (1811) who died in infancy. 
Abraham Lincoln, son of Thomas and Nancy Lincoln, m. 
(1842) Mary Ann Todd (1818-1882). Their children 
were: Robert Todd (1843-1926), Edward Baker (1845- 
1850), William Wallace (1850-1862) and Thomas ("Tad") 
Elizabeth Hanks, daughter of Joseph Hanks, m. (1796) Thomas 

Sparrow ( ? -1818). They had no children. 
William Hanks, son of Joseph Hanks, m. Elizabeth Hall. 
Among their children was 

John Hanks (1802-1890) m. Susan Malinda Wilson. They 
had eight children. 
Na*ncy Hanks, daughter of Joseph Hanks, m. Levi Hall, brother 
of Elizabeth Hall. They had four sons and three daughters, 
among them 

Squire Hall (1805-1851) m. (1826) Matilda Johnston (1809- 
?) stepsister of Abraham Lincoln (see Table II). Among 
their three sons and five daughters was 
John Johnston Hall (1829-1909) m. Elizabeth Jane Taylor. 
Among their three sons and three daughters was 
Nancy A. Hall (1869-1949) m. (1891) John Thomas. 
Their son was 

Clarence Hall [Thomas] (1892- ) now (1954) re- 
siding in Pleasant Grove Township, Coles County. 

Nancy Hanks, daughter of Joseph Hanks, also was the mother 


Dennis Friend Hanks (1799-1892) m. Sarah Elizabeth John- 
ston (1807-1864) stepsister of Abraham Lincoln (see Table 


Christopher Bush ( ? -181 2?) m. Hannah (Davis?). They had six 
sons and three daughters, among them Sarah (1788-1869) and 

Sarah Bush, daughter of Christopher Bush, m. (1) Daniel 
Johnston (? -181 6). Their children were: Sarah Elizabeth 
(1807.1864), Matilda (1809- ?) and John Davis (1810-1854). 
Sarah Bush m. (2) Thomas Lincoln, father of Abraham Lin- 
coln. They had no children. 
Sarah Elizabeth Johnston, daughter of Sarah Bush Johnston, 

m. (1821) Dennis Hanks. They had three sons and five 


Sarah Jane (1822-1907) m. Thomas S. Dowling. 

John Talbot (1823-c. 1910). 

Nancy (1824- ? ) m. James Shoaff. 

Harriet (1826-1915) m. Augustus H. Chapman. 

Amanda (1833- ? ) m. Allison C. Poorman. 

Mary m. William F. Shriver. 

Charles (1841-1870). 

Theophilus (1849?). 
Matilda Johnston, daughter of Sarah Bush Johnston, m. (1) 

(1826) Squire Hall. They had three sons and five daughters: 

John Johston (1829-1909) m. Elizabeth Jane Taylor. 

Nancy Ann (1832-?). 

Elizabeth Jane (1837- ? ) m. John Berry. 

Alfred L. (1839-?). 

Sarah Louisa (1841-1935) m. Merrill Fox. 

Joseph A. 


Matilda Johnston, daughter of Sarah Bush Johnston, m. (2) 

(1856) Reuben Moore (1797-1859). She was his second wife. 

They had one son, Giles. 
John Davis Johnston, son of Sarah Bush Johnston, m. (1) 


(1834) Mary Barker (1816-1850). They had six sons and 

one daughter: 

Thomas Lincoln Davis (1837-?). 

Abraham Lincoln Barker (1838-1861). 

Marietta (1840-1853). 

Squire Hall (1841-?). 

Richard M. (1843-?). 

Dennis Friend (1845-?). 

Daniel (1847-c. 1848). 
John Davis Johnston, son of Sarah Bush Johnston, m. (2) 

(1851) Nancy Jane Williams (1836- ? ). They had one son, 

John Davis, Jr. 
Hannah, daughter of Christopher Bush, m. Ichabod Radley. 
Their children were John, Isaac and Hannah. 
Hannah Radley, daughter of Hannah Bush Radley, m. John 

Sawyer. Among their children were Lydia and Ann. 


From Indiana to Illinois in 1830 

THOMAS LINCOLN, Virginia born and Kentucky bred pioneer 
farmer, had lived in Spencer County, Indiana, for nearly fourteen 
years. He had had about enough of the hilly acres and the all- 
pervading forest. The dread "milk sick," 1 common in a wooded 
country where cattle roamed the timber instead of green pastures, 
had killed his first wife Nancy. Now, a dozen years later, the 
dread malady was on the rise once more, threatening the forest- 
dwellers of southern Indiana. Tom was ready and eager to move 
again, to follow the wagon trails of the advancing frontier. This 
time his hopes were centered on Illinois, twelve years a State and 
rapidly growing; its fertile prairies and its free institutions acting 
as magnets for the yeomen farmers of Tennessee, Kentucky and 
southern Indiana. Tom's destination was the banks of the Sanga- 
mon, in Macon County, near the village of Decatur. 

Thus it was that on March 10, 1830, Abraham Lincoln, son 
of Thomas, first set foot on the soil of what soon was to become 
Coles County, as the small party goaded sluggish oxen toward 
Decatur, some fifty miles to the northwest. On February 20 
Thomas Lincoln sold his eighty acre Indiana farm for $125 to 
his neighbor Charles Grigsby, his corn (at ten cents a bushel) 
and some hogs to another neighbor, and bought a stout wagon 
and two yoke of oxen. 2 He was on his way to the Sangamon 

John Hanks, twenty-eight-year old cousin of Nancy Hanks 
Lincoln, had lived with Tom and his family in Indiana for four 
years. After returning to Kentucky, in 1828 John had pushed on 

Caused by drinking milk from cows that had eaten a poisonous plant, the 
snake weed. 

2 Ida M. Tarbell: In the Footsteps of the Lincolns, p. 155. Cited hereafter as 
Tarbell. Ward H. Lamon: The Life of Abraham Lincoln, p. 74. Cited here- 
after as Lamon. Actually written by Chauncey F. Black from material ob- 
tained by Lamon, much of it from William H. Herndon. 



to Macon County, Illinois. 8 He sent back to Thomas Lincoln a 
glowing report on the fertile Illinois country, and proposed 
that the Lincoln family join him there. Dennis Hanks, thirty- 
year old cousin of John and of the first Mrs. Lincoln, who had 
lived with the Lincolns from 1818 until his marriage in 1821 to 
Sarah Elizabeth Johnston, daughter of the second Mrs. Lincoln, 
decided to come along with his family, together with the Lincolns, 
and join John on the banks of the Sangamon. 4 

In 1866 Dennis Hanks, in a letter to Herndon, claimed chief 
credit for the move to Illinois: 

The Reson is This we war perplext By a Disease Cald Milk Sick my 

Self Being the oldest I was Determined to Leve and hunt a Cuntry 

whare the milk was not I maried his oldest Step Daughter I Sold out 

and they concluded to gow with me Billy I was tolerably popular at 

that time for I had sum mony My wifs mother could not think of 

parting with hir and we Riped up Stakes and Started to Illinois and 

landed at Decatur This this [sic.'] is the Reason for Leaving Indiana. 5 

Twenty-three years later, then in his ninetieth year, Dennis 

Hanks credited John Hanks with the original suggestion. Dennis 

told Eleanor Atkinson that he reckoned "it was John Hanks 'at 

got restless fust an' lit out fur Illinois, an' wrote fur us all to 

come, and He'd get land fur us/' 6 

Dennis' earlier claim that he initiated the move is not incon- 
sistent with the traditions of the Sawyer family of Coles County. 
Hannah Radley, a niece of Mrs. Sarah Bush Lincoln, had mar- 
ried John Sawyer, who came to Coles County from Kentucky 
in 1826. As recorded by Mr. Clarence W. Bell of Mattoon, Illi- 
nois, a grandson of John Sawyer, the family tradition has it that 
Dennis Hanks, after his marriage, "concluded that he would 
have to scratch harder for a living," and decided to go back to 
Virginia. Mrs. Lincoln, his wife's mother, had a niece and two 
nephews in Coles County and persuaded Dennis to come to 
Illinois instead. Dennis made a first trip to Old Paradise (in 

"Albert J. Beveridge: Abraham Lincoln, vol. I, p. 94, cites statement by 
John Hanks to William H. Herndon, June 13, 1865. Cited hereafter as 
Beveridge. Hanks' statement in Herndon-Weik Manuscripts, Library of Cong- 
ress. Photostats in Illinois State Historical Library, Springfield, Nos. 156-161. 
Cited hereafter as Herndon-Weik photostats. Macon County was organized on 
January 19, 1829. 

4 Beveridge, vol. I, pp. 94, 95, 95n. Dennis Hanks was the illegitimate son 
of Nancy Lincoln's aunt, Nancy Hanks, and the son-in-law of the second Mrs. 
Lincoln, Mrs. Sarah Bush Johnston Lincoln, who had married Thomas 
Lincoln on December 2, 1819. Mrs. Nancy Hanks Lincoln had died on Oc- 
tober 5, 1818. 

5 Hanks to Herndon, March 7, 1866. Herndon-Weik photostats, Nos. 658-659. 
Eleanor Atkinson: The Boyhood of Lincoln, p. 41. Cited hereafter as 

Atkinson. This is an account of an interview with Dennis Hanks in Charles- 
ton in January 1889. 

From Indiana to Illinois in 1830 3 

what was later to become Mattoon Township of Coles County) 
where Mrs. Lincoln's relatives lived. Here two of the Raclley boys 
joined him, as did Elisha Linder, a neighbor, and they went on to 
Macon County, where Dennis' cousin John Hanks had located. 
They were impressed by the fertile soil, and by John's offer to 
build a cabin for the Indiana folks if they would join him. 
Dennis accepted this offer and went back to Indiana, where he 
announced that he had found the "promised land" in Illinois. 
Thomas Lincoln, in Dennis' absence, had started to pack up to 
return to his boyhood home in Rockingham County, Virginia. 
Dennis' news from Macon County caused him to change his 
plans. 7 

Regardless of the details, it is clear that Thomas Lincoln 
decided to leave Spencer County, Indiana, because of the pre- 
valence of the "milk sick" and that he decided upon Illinois for 
his future home because of the urgings of both John and Dennis 

The 1830 migration party consisted of thirteen persons: 
Thomas Lincoln, age 52. 
Abraham Lincoln, age 21, the son of Thomas by his first wife, 

Nancy Hanks Lincoln. 
Sarah Bush Johnston Lincoln, age 41, who had married 
Thomas Lincoln on December 2, 1819. Her first husband, 
Daniel Johnston, had died in 1816. 
Sarah Elizabeth Johnston Hanks, age 22, oldest child of 
Mrs. Lincoln and the wife, since 1821, of Dennis Hanks. 
Dennis Friend Hanks, age 31, the son of Nancy Hanks Hall, 
the great-aunt of Abraham Lincoln. With Dennis and 
his wife were their four children: 
Sarah Jane Hanks, age 8. 
John Talbot Hanks, age 7. 
Nancy Hanks, age 6. 
Harriet Hanks, age 4. 

Matilda Johnston Hall, age 20, daughter of Mrs. Lincoln 

and wife of Squire Hall, whom she had married in 1826. 

Squire Hall, age about 25, the son of Levi and Nancy Hanks 

Hall and half-brother of Dennis Hanks. With Squire 

r Clarence W. Bell: ''Lincoln Unwritten History," an address delivered on 
February 11, 1931, at the Methodist Church, Mattoon. Leaflet in possession 
of Mr. Alexander Summers of Mattoon. Also "Sawyer Family Traditions," a 
statement prepared for the writer by Mr. Bell, October 25, 1949. Mr. Bell's 
statements are based on affidavits by members of his family. The writer 
doubts that Thomas Lincoln ever proposed to return to Virginia. 


Hall and his wife was their son. 
John Johnston Flail, age 1 1 months. 
John Davis Johnston, age 19, youngest child of Mrs. Lincoln. 8 

The members of the party were all related, by blood or marriage. 
Sarah Elizabeth and Matilda were Abraham's stepsisters; John 
D. Johnston was his stepbrother. Dennis Hanks and Squire Hall 
were Abraham's second cousins, through their mother, Nancy 
Hanks Hall, Abraham's great-aunt. The Thomas Lincoln party 
left Spencer County, Indiana, on March 1, 1830. As Abraham 
Lincoln later recalled: 

March 1st. 1830 — A. having just completed his 21st. year, his father 
and family, with the families of the two daughters and sons-in-law, of 
his step-mother, left the old homestead in Indiana, and came to Illinois. 
Their mode of conveyance was waggons drawn by ox-teams, or [and] 
A. drove one of the teams. 9 

It is possible that a fourteenth person may have been with 
the party for a portion of the trip. This was John Hanks. Bev- 
eridge, citing a statement made by Dennis Hanks to Herndon in 
1866, which included all of those listed above and also John 
Hanks, concludes that "John Hanks had probably joined the 
party on the road and accompanied the movers back to the 
place he had chosen for them in Illinois." 10 

Oliver R. Barrett has suggested that there may have been 
three other members of the migrating party: Joseph Hall, sixteen 
years old; Mahala Hall, about thirteen years old, and Letitia 
Hall, about eleven years old. A note by Mr. Barrett reads: "From 
the fact that Levi's [Levi Hall, husband of Nancy Hanks Hall] 
administrator was acting in 1830 it is probable that Levi died 
shortly before his son Squire left for Illinois with the Lincolns 
and Squire undoubtedly took with him his brother Joseph and 

8 Affidavit by Mrs. Harriet Hanks Chapman, November 2, 1912. In Charles 
M. Thompson: The Investigation of the Lincoln Way, p. 30. Cited hereafter 
as Thompson. Mrs. Chapman was 86 years old at the time of this statement. 
She died in 1915. 

9 Autobiographical sketch written by Lincoln for campaign purposes, about 
June 1, 1860. Roy P. Basler (editor) : The Collected Works of Abraham 
Lincoln, 1953, vol. IV, p. 63. Cited hereafter as Collected Works. 

10 Beveridge, vol. 1, p. 103 n. William H. Herndon and Jesse W. Weik: 
Herndon's Lincoln (1930 edition) , p. 59 (cited hereafter as Herndon) , states 
that John Hanks had met and sheltered the party in Macon County. He had 
preceded them a year. Dennis Hanks' statement to Herndon is in a letter 
dated April 16, 1866. Herndon-Weik photostats, No. 724. Dennis Hanks 
wrote: "You should have said they came with me to Illinois. There was 13 
in the three familys." He then listed fourteen persons, including "John 
Hanks" and "John Talbott Hanks," the son of Dennis. 

From Indiana to Illinois in 1830 5 

his two sisters. 11 This is logical, but there appears to be no direct 
evidence to support this conclusion. Neither Dennis Hanks nor 
Mrs. Harriet Hanks Chapman, in their recollections of the trip, 
made any reference to the three additional children of Levi Hall, 
nor did Abraham Lincoln, in his 1860 autobiographical sketch, 
refer to them in his brief reference to the migrating party. 

The Probate Court document of September 29, 1831, 12 proves 
that the three children were with their brother Squire in Coles 
County at that time. Did seventeen-year-old Joseph Hall bring 
his two sisters from Indiana to Coles County in the summer of 
1831, after Squire had come to Coles County from Macon County 
with the Thomas Lincoln family? It is possible. 

The trip was made in two, and possibly three wagons, one 
(or two) drawn by at least two yoke of oxen (four animals), and 
one drawn by four horses. 13 Traveling conditions in southwestern 
Indiana and east central Illinois in March of 1830, before any 
road improvements had been made, were such that even with 
four oxen hitched to each wagon it might have been necessary 
at times to double up the teams and pull the wagons through 
the worst spots one at a time. Ida Tarbell, in her In the Foot- 
steps of the Lincolns, insists that four oxen for each wagon would 
have been inadequate for such a journey. She quotes a pioneer 
who had done business in central Illinois in the early days, Mr. 
John Davis of Junction City, Kansas. Davis recalled that in the 
1840's even four good horses could not draw the mail coach on 

11 In Illinois State Historical Library, "Kith and Kin" material from the 
Barrett Collection. A note for ten dollars, with the names of the makers 
missing, is made out to "Luther Greathouse, Ad M of Levi Hall dec," and is 
dated March 26, 1830. The ages of Joseph, Mahala, and Letitia Hall are 
established by a Coles County Probate Court document, dated September 29, 
1831, appointing their older brother Squire Hall as their guardian. Coles 
County Probate Court Record vol. I, pp. 18-19. 

12 See note above. Squire Hall as guardian, with his brother-in-law John D. 
Johnston, signed a bond for $150. 

13 Herndon, p. 57, refers to a wagon drawn by two yoke of oxen. Harry E. 
Pratt: Lincoln Day-by-Day, 1809-1839, pp. xxi, 7. Cited hereafter as Pratt, 
1809-1839. William E. Barton: The Life of Abraham Lincoln, vol. I, pp. 139- 
140. Cited hereafter as Barton. Mrs. Chapman stated 82 years later that "the 
party had three covered wagons, two drawn by oxen, and one by horses, and 
two saddle horses . . ." Thompson, p. 30. Mrs. Chapman was four years old 
in 1830. Her sister, Mrs. Sarah Jane Dowling, eight years old at the time, 
recalled about 1906, a year before her death, that "we had two great covered 
wagons and Uncle Abe drove one of them." Quoted by George E. Mason in 
article in undated and unnamed newspaper clipping, about 1906, in scrapbook 
belonging to Mrs. Walton Alexander of Charleston, Illinois. Benjamin P. 
Thomas: Abraham Lincoln, concludes that three wagons were used, one 
drawn by a four-horse team, and two by two yoke of oxen each (p. 20) . Cited 
hereafter as Thomas, Lincoln. 


the Springfield-Terre Haute route in the muddy spring time. 
During March and part of April it was possible to bring through 
only the letter mail, in a two-wheeled cart drawn by four horses, 
with frequent relays. On one occasion, in the spring of 1851, 
Davis used a team of seven yoke of oxen to haul a 1,500 pound 
load from Macon to Shelby and Coles counties. He observed 
that a team of four oxen drawing the Lincoln wagon at that 
time of the year would have been helpless. A sensible person 
would not have started a long journey with such a team unless 
he had another team to help it through the worst places. Miss 
Tarbell concludes that "this is sound sense." 14 

Despite this contemporary testimony, it is unlikely that the 
wagons of the Lincoln-Hanks-Hall party had more than four 
animals each, for the reason that none of the party was financially 
able to purchase more than the minimum number of animals 
essential for the trip. Doubling up the teams may have been 
resorted to at times, but the party made good time, considering 
the circumstances, for they spent the night of the eleventh day 
after leaving Spencer County in western Coles County, Illinois, 
about one hundred and fifty miles from the point of departure. 15 

With the ground in early March not yet thawed out com- 
pletely, the ox-teams were able to make better time than they 
would have been able to make a few weeks later. In describing 
the trip to his law partner William H. Herndon many years 
later, Lincoln recalled that the ground had not yet yielded up 
the frosts of winter. The surface would thaw during the day, 
and freeze over again at night. The freezing night temperature 
left a thin coating of ice on the streams each morning, which 
the oxen broke with each step when the route took them through 
a ford. 10 The fact that they were going north reduced the likeli- 
hood of a warm spell making the ground too muddy for travel, 

14 Tarbell, pp. 155-156. 

15 Carl Sandburg: Abraham Lincoln, the Prairie Years, vol. I, p. 104, refers 
to the party using seven yoke of ox teams. Cited hereafter as Sandburg. 
Lamon, p. 74, states that the entire party of three families made the trip 
with one wagon belonging to Thomas Lincoln and drawn by four yoke of 
oxen, two yoke owned by Thomas and two by Dennis Hanks. Isaac N. Arnold: 
The Life of Abraham Lincoln, vol. I, p. 28, follows Lamon in having the 
party travel in one wagon drawn by four yoke of oxen, "which were driven 
by the future president." Cited hereafter as Arnold. It is hardly likely that 
one wagon would have sufficed for such a large party, which included five 
children and three women and the household furnishings of three families. 

10 Herndon, pp. 57-58. Nicolay and Hay, in their Abraham Lincoln, A 
History, vol. I, p. 45, refer to "the dangerous fording of streams swollen by 
the February thaws. . . ." Cited hereafter as Nicolay and Hay. 

From Indiana to Illinois in 1830 7 

Macon County, Illinois, being about 120 miles north of Spencer 
County, Indiana. 

In January 1889, when nearly ninety years old, Dennis Hanks 
gave an account of the 1830 trip to Eleanor Atkinson. He 
recalled that: 

It tuk us two weeks to get thar, raftin' over the Wabash, cuttin' our 

way through the woods, fordin' rivers, pryin' wagons and steers out o' 

sloughs with fence rails, an' makin' camp. Abe cracked a joke every 

time he cracked a whip, an' he found a way out o' every tight place 

while the rest of us was standin' round scratchin' our fool heads. I 

reckon Abe an' Aunty Sairy [Sarah] run that movin', an' good thing 

they did, or it'd a ben run into a swamp and sucked under. 17 

In addition to his wagon and oxen, Thomas Lincoln brought 

with him a horse and a small amount of furniture, the minimum 

for a man, wife, and two adult sons. It included three beds and 

bedding, one bureau, one table, one clothes closet, one set of 

chairs, and a few cooking utensils, an axe, a rifle, etc. 18 This, 

with a small amount of cash left over after the purchase of the 

wagon and oxen and supplies for the trip from the sale of his 

Spencer County property for $125 and a lot in Elizabethtown, 

Kentucky, belonging to Mrs. Lincoln, for $123, 19 represented 

Thomas Lincoln's material assets when he came to Illinois. 

17 Atkinson, pp. 41-42. Mrs. Sarah Jane Dowling, daughter of Dennis Hanks, 
who was eight years old at the time of the trip, recalled about 1906 "the long 
ride through the swamps in Illinois. . . . Often the men folks had to cut 
down trees to get us across swamps and they shot all of our meat." Statement 
to George E. Mason, in undated clipping in scrapbook belonging to Mrs. 
Walton Alexander of Charleston, Illinois. 

18 Beveridge, vol. I, p. 102; Lamon, p. 74. The furniture list is almost the 
same as that which Mrs. Lincoln brought to Indiana from Kentucky in 1819 at 
the time of her marriage. Lamon, p. 30. 

10 Beveridge, vol. I, p. 95. 










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Across Coles County 

THE ROUTE FOLLOWED by the Thomas Lincoln party from 
Spencer County, Indiana, to Macon County, Illinois, has been 
the subject of much controversy. If the party went through 
every city that claims a place on the route, they would have 
been zig-zagging over eastern and central Illinois for months! 

At the time of his last visit to Coles County, in January 1861, 
Abraham Lincoln is reported by Augustus H. Chapman (husband 
of Harriet Hanks, Dennis' daughter) to have described the route. 
Thirty-five years later Chapman wrote to Jesse W. Weik that 
Lincoln told him that the party crossed the Wabash at Vincennes. 
They passed through Lawrenceville, Palestine, and Darwin. Here 
they struck out in a northwesterly direction, passing through 
Richwoods (about three miles east of the present village of West- 
field) and continuing to a point about six miles west of Charles- 
ton, called Dead Man's Grove; thence north through Nelsonville 
(or Nelson, no longer in existence. It was about three miles 
southeast of Sullivan) and on to Decatur. 1 

Another description, also by a member of the original party, 
is that of Mrs. Chapman. In her 1912 affidavit, previously referred 
to, she stated that the party crossed the Wabash the second day 
after leaving Vincennes. The Illinois portion of the route, is 
described in her affidavit as follows: 

Affiant further states that the party passed through Palestine, Illinois; 
that she remembers said town from the fact that it had a Bible name. 
Affiant further states that the party finally reached the national road, 
and crossed the Embarras [s] river at Greenup, Illinois; passed through 
Paradise, located in what is now the southwestern corner of Coles 
County, Illinois. 

Affiant states that she has often heard her father, Dennis Hanks, 
speak of crossing the Embarras river at Greenup, Illinois and that the 
cause of said Hanks speaking of this event repeatedly was that he after- 
wards worked on the bridge built at that point. 

better dated Charleston, January 3, 1896. In Thompson, pp. 33-34. The 
lapse of time between Lincoln's conversation and Chapman's letter should be 
borne in mind. Also see Lincoln Lore, No. 480, for statement attributed to 
Lincoln concerning the Vincennes-Lawrenceville portion of the trip. 


Affiant further states that the party did not follow the national road 
far west of Greenup, that it did not go to Vandalia, Illinois, and that 
the trip was made directly to Decatur. 2 

Professor Charles M. Thompson of the University of Illinois, 
in 1911-1915 studied the "Lincoln Way," and concluded that 
the following points are on the "Lincoln Way" in Illinois: 

(1) A point on the Illinois bank of the Wabash river opposite 
Vincennes, Indiana; (2) Lawrenceville; (3) Christian settlement; 
(4) Russellville; (5) Palestine; (6) Hutsonville; (7) York; (8) Dar- 
win; (9) Richwoods; (10) McCann's Ford; (11) Paradise; (12) Mat- 
toon; (13) Dead Man's Grove; (14) Nelson; (15) Decatur; (16) 
"Lincoln Farm," Macon County. 3 

It is evident that Professor Thompson has attempted to recon- 
cile the conflict in the description of the route through Coles 
County as between Lincoln (as reported by Chapman) and Mrs. 
Chapman. He brings the party west from Richwoods, which 
means that they entered the county near the site of Westfield. 
Then he brings them in a southwesterly direction to McCann's 
Ford (called Logan's Ford in 1830), then westerly to Paradise 
(Wabash Point). Then he has them going north to the site of 
present-day Mattoon and east to Dead Man's Grove, thence 
northwesterly to Nelson on the route to Decatur. In this way 
Professor Thompson has the party at both Dead Man's Grove, 
mentioned by Mr. Lincoln, and at Paradise, mentioned by Mrs. 
Chapman, despite that fact that a party crossing Coles County 
from east to west, with a northwesterly objective after leaving 
the County, could not touch both places without a time-cory 
suming detour. 

Mr. Lincoln's description of the route — Richwoods, Dead 
Man's Grove, Nelsonville (Nelson) — gives the shortest route across 
the county of any of the routes we are considering. Such a route 
conveniently would cross the Embarrass River at Parker's Ford 
(later known as Blakeman's Ford), proceed north on the road 
from the ford to the hamlet which was to become Charleston, 
where they would reach the Paris-Shelbyville road, and proceed 

2 Thompson, p. 31. In speaking of Greenup the site of Greenup is intended, 
as that city was not in existence until 1834. Thompson, after weighing the 
evidence, concludes that it is not improbable that the bridge referred to by 
Mrs. Chapman was at McCann's Ford in Coles County rather than at Greenup 

(pp. 9-10) . The testimony of a person eighty-six years of age concerning 
events of eighty-two years before is not to be accepted without supporting 
evidence. Mrs. Chapman's original affidavit contained the statement, omitted 
by inadvertance from the published form, "that her knowledge of events as 
sworn to in this affidavit is based upon remembrance and upon hearing her 
parents talk after she became a young lady." Thompson, p. 30n. 

3 Thompson, pp. 13-14. 

Across Coles County 11 

to Dead Man's Grove by a route roughly following the present 
state road 16. Since Lincoln did not mention passing through 
Charleston, that suggests that the party missed that point. He 
mentioned places of much less importance at the time he was 
talking (1861), such as Richwoods and Nelson, but not Charleston, 
even though he was talking to a Charleston resident. If the party 
proceeded from Richwoods to McCann's Ford, as Professor 
Thompson suggests, they could hardly have touched the site of 
Charleston. In this case it is difficult to see why they would have 
gone to Dead Man's Grove, mentioned by Lincoln, after leaving 
Wabash Point (or Paradise). As far as is known, Dead Man's 
Grove had no special attraction for the party, while Paradise did 
have, for it was near there that Ichabod Radley and John Sawyer 
lived. The Radley and Sawyer families were related to Mrs. 

If the party came due west from Richwoods and crossed the 
Embarrass River at Parker's (or Blakeman's) Ford 4 they would 
have been near the location of a mill established by John W. 
Parker, the first settler of Coles County, in 1829. 5 In that event 
it is possible that they stopped at the mill to get feed for their 
oxen and horses and flour and meal for themselves. After leaving 
the ford the party may have headed north and west to the ham- 
let which was soon to become known as Charleston. 6 

Considering the fact that their next overnight stop was near 
Wabash Point, some thirteen miles to the west, it is probable 
that the party camped for the night after crossing the Embarrass, 
either near the ford, or possibly near the settlement about two 
miles to the west and north of Parker's Ford. 

4 Blakeman's Ford, as it came to be known later, was located a short dis- 
tance south of the present bridge on route 130, in section 25, town 12 N., 
range 9 E. Except for parts of three sections east of the river, this survey 
township became Charleston Township when township government was 
adoptd by Coles County in 1859. 

3 Parker entered 80 acres on December 6, 1824, on the east side of the river 
(now in Hutton Township) , near the ford. It was the West half of the 
Northeast quarter of section 25, town 12 N., range 9 E. "High Johnny" 
Parker was a preacher and a bee hunter as well as a farmer and a miller. 
Parker came to Coles County with his five sons and their families from Craw- 
ford County. The family had originally come from Tennessee. Mrs. Joseph 
G. Dole: "Pioneer Days in Coles County," in Journal of the Illinois State 
Historical Society, April 1921, p. 113. Cited hereafter as Mrs. Dole. The first 
land entry in Coles County was made by Robert Modrell. on December 14, 
1820 in what is now Ashmore Township (Wi/ 2 , NE14, Sect. 19, T. 13 N., R. 
11 E.) . The writer has seen no evidence that Modrell actually settled on the 
land. Land entries are in the Coles County Land Entry Book in the office of 
the County Clerk. The entries are listed by townships and sections. The 
pages are not numbered. Cited hereafter as Land Entry Book. 


Assuming the Parker's Ford crossing, it would appear logical 
for the party to strike out for the Paris-Shelbyville road, which 
ran through the site of Charleston, as the best route for reaching 
Wabash Point. This was a pioneer trail or "trace" in 1830, which 
was recognized as a state road in 183 1. 7 

The road from Paris entered Coles County in section 18 of 
Town 12 N., Range 14 W., about three and a half miles south of 
the point where the present state route 16 enters the county. 
It continued west past the present Little Brick School, Rocks 
Park, and the Church of God to enter Charleston on what is 
now Harrison Street. To the west of Charleston the road followed 
what is known today as the "old road" to Mattoon, passing the 
present Monroe School, and continuing south of Mattoon, past 
Wabash Point (Wabash School today) and leaving the County in 
section 31 of Town 12 N, Range 7 E. 

The fact that there was a trail from McCann's Ford to the 
Paradise settlement 8 supports the McCann's Ford theory. In 
addition, Joseph A. Hall, son of Squire Hall of the original party, 
stated that he had heard his father and Dennis Hanks say that 
the party camped overnight at a "deer lick" near the Goosenest 
Prairie 9 and hence near McCann's Ford. Hall's statement, in a 
letter to Professor Thompson dated, Janesville, Illinois, January 
9, 1913, gives some interesting details: 

6 At this time the future Charleston probably consisted of not more than a 
half-dozen log houses. The first house was built by William Cullom (or 
Collom) who kept a tavern in 1826. In 1830 a store was kept by Charles S. 
Morton whose farm adjoined the present north boundary of the city, on the 
east side of Fifth street, extended. That same spring Morton moved into the 
village, and became the first postmaster of "Coles Court House" on March 
31, 1831, shortly after the village became the county seat. The name Charles- 
ton (traditionally derived from Charles Morton — Charles [Morjton) be- 
came official when the plat of "Charleston Coles County Illinois," which was 
laid out on April 23, 1831, was recorded on June 4, 1831. Coles County Deed 
Records, vol. A, pp. 5-7. Cited hereafter as Deed Records. The town was 
incorporated on March 2, 1839. 

7 Illinois General Assembly, Laws of 1831, p. 142. Act approved January 28, 
1831. Three commissioners were named, one each from Edgar, Coles and 
Shelby counties, "to view, survey, mark and locate a road from Shelbyville . . . 
to Paris ... to be located on the nearest and best route, doing as little 
damage to private property as the public good will permit." The right of 
way was to be "four poles wide" (a pole is the same as a rod, or I614 feet)',, 
or 66 feet, and was to be "opened and kept in repair as other roads are in 
this state." The commissioners were to receive $1.50 a day for the time spent 
in locating the road, to be paid by their respective counties. Thomas Sconce 
was the Coles County commissioner. He was elected County Surveyor a few 
days later, when the first Coles County election was held on February 5, 1831. 
Paradise Post Office near Wabash Point was the polling place for the entire 

8 Thompson, pp. 11, 56, 58. 

Across Coles County 13 

My father said that they came through Palestine and that they fol- 
lowed an old Indian trail northwest from there, as there were no main 
roads as there are today, as they had to pick their way as best they 
could. Dennis Hanks often visited my father here at the old cabin and 
stayed as long as a month at a time, and I have heard them both talk 
about how they came and what a time they had on the road and they 
both agreed that they came through Palestine in the direction I have 
mentioned. My father said: "Dennis, don't you mind when we crossed 
Hurricane how we all like to got drowned?" I have also heard my 
father and Dennis Hanks both say that there was a deer lick near the 
farm, that night overtook them, and they camped over night. My 
father said that they camped at Muddy Point near the little town of 
Paradise and that they stopped with a family named Radley. My 
father said his name was Ichabod Radley. The bridge that Dennis 
Hanks worked on was built across the Embarrass river at McCann's 
ford. I never heard my father or uncle Dennis Hanks speak of a 
family by the name of Harrison. 

I have heard my father say that they travelled north through the 
western edge of what is now Mattoon, that they could have entered 
land where Mattoon is now for $1.25 an acre but it was so low and 
swampy that nobody could live there. 10 

Further evidence of doubtful value in support of the McCann's 
Ford crossing comes from Lewis E. Moore, a neighbor of Thomas 
Lincoln (age eleven years when Thomas Lincoln died in 1851), 
who stated that Thomas Lincoln had told him that the party 
crossed at McCann's Ford. 11 

The circumstantial evidence against a McCann's Ford crossing 
is strong, as pointed out to the writer by Professor S. E. Thomas, 
emeritus head of the social science department of the Eastern 
Illinois State College. Professor Thomas interviewed old settlers 
in Pleasant Grove Township in 1908, who told him that the 
Goosenest Prairie area west of McCann's Ford was nearly im- 
passable in winter except when the ground was frozen solid, 
which was not likely to be the case in March. The McCann's 
Ford bridge, referred to above, is purely traditional. Neither 
Professor Thomas nor the writer has seen any record of its 
existence. Furthermore, the terrain from Richwoods to Parker's 
Ford, passing south of the present-day Westfield, was elevated and 
well-drained, and the trail from the region west of the Embarrass 

9 There have been various stories to account for the name "Goosenest 
Prairie." It was here that Thomas Lincoln lived from 1837 until his death in 
1851. About the year 1827, according to one account, a pioneer named Josiah 
Marshall gave the name to that section because of the richness of the soil 
which reminded him of the peculiar richness of a goose egg. He exclaimed 
"this is the very goose-nest" when he saw the rich soil. The first settlement 
on "Goosenest Prairie" was made by the Rev. Daniel Barham and sons John 
and Nathan, who with Thomas Parker erected the first cabin in the spring of 
1829. Mrs. Dole, p. 113; The History of Coles County, Chicago, William 
LeBaron Jr. and Co., (1879) , pp. 229, 232. Cited hereafter as LeBaron. 

10 Thompson, pp. 52-53. 

11 Thompson, p. 54. 


to Palestine, the public land office in the days of early settlement 
of Coles County, crossed the Embarrass at Parker's Ford and went 
east and south, roughly following the present-day Lincoln Na- 
tional Memorial Highway. This trail was of necessity used by 
those "entering" public lands in the region. It also may be sig- 
nificant to note that there were only two land entries on or near 
the trail from McCann's Ford across present Pleasant Grove 
Township prior to March 1, 1830. There were 720 acres entered 
in or within one mile of the site of Charleston by that date, in 
addition to two entries at Parker's Ford (J. W. and B. Parker, 
1824, and William Shaw, 1829) and 673 acres entered within 
three miles of Charleston to the west, along or near the Shelby- 
ville-Paris road. 

It will never be known positively just what route the Lincoln- 
Hanks-Hall party followed in crossing Coles County in 1830. 12 
The writer inclines to the opinion that the party entered the 
county south of but near what is now Westfield, crossed at 
Parker's Ford, spent the night of March 10 near the ford after 
crossing, proceeded via Charleston and the Paris-Shelbyville road 
or trail to the vicinity of Wabash Point where they spent the 
night of March 11, and proceeded northwesterly toward Nelson, 
possibly touching the western edge of what is now the city of 
Mattoon, 13 and probably not touching Dead Man's Grove. 14 
Lincoln's reference to Dead Man's Grove presumably, was either 
a slip of memory (perhaps by Chapman who reported Lincoln's 
statement to him) or a reference to some other spot than that 
known today by that name. 

Migrating pioneer parties did not necessarily follow trails or 
roads. They frequently struck out across country, avoiding 
streams and forests as much as possible and, especially in wet 
seasons and when the ground was soft from melted snow, keeping 
to ridges where natural drainage would reduce the obstacle of 
wheel-gripping mud. Furthermore, even when preceding vehicles 
had marked a trail, the route would vary according to the season 
at which it was made — avoiding hills and ridges in dry seasons 

12 Coles County was created by act of the legislature on Christmas Day, 1830. 
Illinois General Assembly, Laws of 1831 , p. 59. Prior to its creation the terri- 
tory which became Coles County was divided between Clark (created 1819) 
and Edgar (created 1823) counties, with the southern half of the prospective 
Coles County a part of Clark. This included the sites of the future cities of 
Charleston and Mattoon. 

1:1 But not going through the site of the present city, which at that time 
was low and swampy. 

14 Traditionally so called because the body of a man, frozen to death, was 
found there in 1826. 

Across Coles County 15 

and seeking high ground in wet seasons. Obviously, it is impos- 
sible to be positive about the exact route followed by a pioneer 
party under such circumstances. We may be reasonably certain 
that they passed through settlements along their general route, 
but the path actually followed between settlements can be no 
more than an informed guess, based on the season at which the 
journey was made, the "lay of the land," the extent of forest 
cover, and the location of trails and roads known to have been in 
use at that time. 

The "official" Lincoln National Memorial Highway, as marked 
by the State of Illinois in Coles County, links together on one 
route as many Lincoln associations as is possible — the various 
homes of Thomas Lincoln; Charleston, where Lincoln practised 
law and the scene of the Lincoln-Douglas debate in 1858; the 
Moore House in Farmington visited by Lincoln in 1861; the 
Goosenest Prairie home of Thomas Lincoln, and the Shiloh 
cemetery where Abraham's father and stepmother are buried. 
It is manifestly impossible to do this and at the same time ap- 
proximate the route followed by migrating families in 1830. The 
accompanying map shows the highway as marked. 15 

After their overnight stop in eastern Coles County, after 
crossing at Parker's Ford (?), the Lincoln-Hanks-Hall party may 
have proceeded to the home of Ichabod Radley, whose wife 
Hannah was Mrs. Lincoln's older sister, where it is possible that 
they spent the night of March 11. The Radleys had come to 
Illinois in 1828 from Elizabethtown, Kentucky, where he had 
been a schoolmaster. The exact location of the Radley cabin is 
uncertain although it was in the general neighborhood of the 
Paradise settlement. He appears to have been either a renter or 
a squatter, for he did not own land in the county until later. 10 
Joseph Hall, in the 1913 letter quoted above, gives his father 
Squire Hall as the authority for the statement that the 1830 party 
"camped at Muddy Point near the little town of Paradise and 
that they stopped with a family named Radley." The region 
known as "Muddy Point" today centers around Muddy Point 
School, which is five miles east and two miles south of Wabash 
Point. It was near here that Thomas Lincoln had his second or 

m Mr. Adolph Sumerlin, publisher of the Lerna Weekly Eagle until his 
death in 1931, deserves a major part of the credit for the location and marking 
of the Coles County section of the Lincoln National Memorial Highway. 

"Thompson, pp. 13, 61. There were no land entries prior to March 1, 1830, 
closer than two miles to Paradise or Wabash Point. The Lincoln Kinsman, 
No. G, December 1938, p. 4, gives the names of the daughters of Christopher 
Bush, and those of their husbands. 


"Muddy Point" home 1834-1837. William F. Cavins of Mattoon, 
in his pamphlet on the Lincoln family, places the Radleys more 
precisely as living "on Brush Creek [or Buttermilk Branch] about 
40 rods east of the present Dry Grove School/' 17 This places the 
Radleys two and a half miles farther to the west than Muddy 
Point, and hence that much closer to Wabash Point. Regardless 
of the location, it is possible that the party of thirteen persons 
spent the night at the Radleys. 18 Since the cabin was small, and 
the party was large, it is probable that they camped near it, as 
Joseph Hall reports, rather than all sleeping indoors, although 
some of the women folks and "younguns" of the party may have 
shared the rope beds and places on the floor before the friendly 
cabin fireplace. 

Also living in the Paradise settlement, but nearer to Wabash 
Point, was John Sawyer, whose wife was Radley's daughter Han- 
nah, and therefore Mrs. Lincoln's niece. The Sawyers, according 
to Mr. Cavins, lived near Magnet, which is a little over a mile 
east of Wabash Point. 19 

According to family traditions John Sawyer was the first settler 
at Wabash Point, and erected the first cabin in the neighborhood 
when he located there on October 6, 1826. 20 Wabash Point was 
the location of Paradise Post Office, established in 1829 by George 
M. Hanson of Paradise, Virginia, who named the post office for 
his birthplace. Hanson, who came to Wabash Point in 1828, was 
postmaster for about two years, when the office was moved to 
William Langston's "Relay House" after the opening of the "State 
Line Road" from Paris to Shelbyville by way of Wabash Point 
in 1831. 21 Paradise was the first post office in Coles County. 22 
Shortly after the opening of Paradise post office a town was laid 

17 William F. Cavins: The Lincoln Family — Neighbors of Our Fathers 
(Mattoon, Illinois, 1934) , p. 3. Cited hereafter as Cavins. The property is 
now owned by Fred Ferree. 

18 S. M. Blunk: "The Lincoln Way," in Bulletin of the Abraham Lincoln 
Association, No. 11, June 1, 1928, pp. 7-8. Cited hereafter as Blunk. Pratt, 
1809-1839, p. 8. 

19 Cavins, p. 3. 

20 Statement by Mr. Clarence W. Bell of Mattoon, grandson of John Sawyer, 
in Lerna Weekly Eagle. Clipping, no date (1930) , in scrapbook in possession 
of Mr. George P. Rodgers of Pleasant Grove Township. The Lerna Weekly 
Eagle was published by Mr. Adolph Sumerlin until his death in 1931. His son, 
Mr. Earl B. Sumerlin of Mattoon, continued the paper until 1945, when it 
ceased publication. No file of the Eagle for the period before 1931 is known 
to exist. Mr. Earl Sumerlin has a file for the period since 1930, which he 
kindly permitted the writer to examine on July 19, 1950. The Coles County 
Land Entry Book shows no land entry by John Sawyer prior to March 1, 1830. 

Across Coles County 17 

out near Wabash Point and called Paradise; it was soon aban- 
doned, and in 1837 another town was laid out about two miles 
south, the location of the present hamlet of Paradise. 23 

If Mr. Cavins is correct in locating both the Radley and 
Sawyer homes, the latter lived two miles north and over one 
mile west of the Radleys. It is possible that some of the party 
may have driven on to the Sawyers with one of the wagons that 
evening in order that more of the party could spend the night 
in a warm cabin. This, however, is unlikely, as it would have in- 
volved additional driving for an hour and a half, at least, for 
those of the party going ahead to the Sawyers. Arriving in the 
"shank" of the afternoon at the home of relatives, the dominant 
wish of all the party must have been to "set a while" and visit, 
eat, and "bunk down" for the night. An hour and a half more 
of goading tired oxen through the chilly March evening would 
have had no attraction. 

If, as the writer believes, the party took the northern ford at 
Parker's (Blakeman's) and came west on the Paris-Shelbyville 
road, they may have spent the night with the John Sawyers, for 
that home would have been more accessible from the road near 
Wabash Point than that of the Radleys, who were three miles 
south of the road at its nearest point if Mr. Gavins' location for 
them is correct. Furthermore, John Sawyer had a four-room 
house. 24 

Whether all or part of the party went to the Sawyers for the 
night of March 1 1 or not, the entire party must have gone by 

21 Langston's Relay House later was operated by William G. Waddill. Dur- 
ing the years that Abraham Lincoln visited Charleston to attend court, he 
stopped at Waddill's Tavern and Relay House on various occasions while on 
his way between Charleston and Shelbyville. Mrs. Hannah Pamelia Waddill 
Smith, daughter of the proprietor, many years later recalled that she "saw Mr. 
Lincoln a great many times. . . . He always seemed in a deep study, and 
never spoke very much." Mrs. Smith treasured an ironstone china plate from 
which Lincoln ate many times. Her daughter, Mrs. W. E. Waltrip, owned 
the plate after her mother's death. Lerna Weekly Eagle, June 27, 1930, quot- 
ing from an undated clipping owned by Mrs. Waltrip in which Mrs. Smith is 
quoted. In files of the Lincoln National Life Foundation, Fort Wayne, 

22 LeBaron, p. 349. The office was located in the home of Hiram Tremble, a 
relative of Hanson's wife. The Tremble property was one-half mile south 
of the John Sawyer home. Hanson later moved to California, and served as 
an Indian agent from 1861 to 1863 by appointment of President Lincoln. 

23 Blunk, pp. 7-8. This move explains why Paradise Township does not 
include the site of the original Paradise Post Office, which is in Mattoon 

^Clarence W. Bell: — "Lincoln Unwritten History" (leaflet). The Sawyer 
family tradition is that the Lincoln party spent the night with the John 


the Sawyers' house the next morning, March 12. Probably they 
paused for a short visit. It is clear, however, that the party did not 
stay longer than overnight in the Radley-Sawyer neighborhood, 
for three days and forty-five miles later we find them at Decatur. 
Fifteen miles a day was the average for the entire trip. Allowing 
for stops for meals, setting up and taking down camp, watering 
and feeding the stock, fording streams, mud-holes, and double- 
hitching through the worst places, this was good ox-team time. 

Mention has been made of the uncertainty of John Hanks' 
presence in the party for all or part of the way. It is possible 
that Hanks was waiting for them at Radley's (or Sawyer's). He 
w r ould guide them on the last part of their journey, to Decatur 
and the Sangamon River home seven miles beyond. The party 
could find their w r ay, following the directions sent back to them, 
through the wooded and rolling country they had been in since 
leaving Indiana, but a guide would be necessary as they entered 
the almost level "grand prairie" to the north and west. 

According to the Sawyer family tradition, two sons of Ichabod 
Radley, John and Isaac, went with the Lincoln party on horse- 
back from Wabash Point to Macon County. After seeing the 
family settled in their new location, the Radleys returned to 
Wabash Point. 25 If the Sawyer tradition in other respects is 
correct, the party needed no guide, for Dennis Hanks had made 
an earlier trip over the same route. 

After leaving the Sawyer cabin near Wabash Point on the 
morning of March 12, the party headed in the direction of 
Nelson and Sullivan. 20 They probably went north and west, 
coming close to the outskirts of present-day Mattoon, and leaving 
Coles County near the present hamlet of Coles, their route prob- 
ably taking them a little to the north of that point. They reached 
Decatur on the evening of March 14, three days after leaving 
the Paradise settlement, and proceeded the next day to the spot 
selected for them by John Hanks on the north bank of the Sanga- 
mon, about seven miles west and two miles south of Decatur. 

25 Clarence W. Bell: "Lincoln Unwritten History." 

26 One tradition routes the party west to Vandalia and then north to Macon 
county. Mrs. Sarah Jane Hanks Dowling, eight years old when the trip was 
made, recalled about 1906 that "we went west to Vandalia and then up into 
Macon county and settled on the Sangamon River." Quoted by George E. 
Mason. Clipping in scrapbook belonging to Mrs. Walton Alexander of 
Charleston, Illinois. The writer rejects this statement as being contrary to the 
weight of the evidence. Mrs. Dowling was 84 years old in 1906. 

Abrahams Visit to His Folks in 1831 

ABRAHAM LINCOLN'S only period of Illinois residence with 
his father and stepmother was from March 1830 to March 1831 in 
Macon County, at the Sangamon River home west of Decatur 
which John Hanks had selected for the Lincolns. Dennis Hanks 
and Squire Hall with their families, were located nearby. 

'"Ague" and fever, or malaria, was a common affliction of early 
settlers in Illinois, and the Lincoln-Hanks-Hall families suffered 
from it in the fall of 1830. This was followed by an unusually 
severe winter, long remembered as the "winter of the deep snow." 
One such fall and winter was enough for Thomas Lincoln, and 
he decided to return to Indiana. Late in the spring of 1831, after 
the snow had melted and the ground had dried sufficiently to 
travel, Thomas Lincoln, Squire Hall, Dennis Hanks and their 
wives and children started on the return journey. 

Abraham Lincoln and John D. Johnston did not accompany 
the family group on this trip. Together with John Hanks they 
had contracted with Denton Offut of Sangamo Town (about 
seven miles northwest of Springfield on the Sangamon River) to 
deliver a flatboat load of produce to New Orleans. They left 
Macon County about the middle of March. After building the 
flatboat at Sangamo Town they left for New Orleans about May 
first, 1 at about the same time that Thomas Lincoln and his other 
relatives were abandoning Macon County where they had suf- 
fered through the bitter winter. 

Retracing their steps of the year before, the Thomas Lincoln 
party arrived at the Sawyers in western Coles County. Family 
tradition has it that John Sawyer persuaded Thomas not to 
continue on to Indiana, but to settle in that neighborhood. 2 

Perhaps persuaded by Sawyer, and certainly influenced by the 
presence of friends and relatives in the neighborhood, Thomas 

1 Beveridge, vol. I, pp. 105-106. John Hanks to Herndon, June 13, 1866. 
Herndon-Weik photostats, Nos. 156-161. 

2 Gavins, p. 3. 



Lincoln decided to stay in Coles County. He settled on a 40- 
acre tract in the "Buck Grove" neighborhood about a mile north 
and nearly two miles east of the Ichabod Radley home as described 
by Mr. Cavins. The location is near the northwest corner of the 
present Pleasant Grove Township. 3 This property was public 
land at the time Thomas Lincoln lived on it. He never obtained 
a title to it. Nearly three years after he left it the quarter section 
in which the land was located was purchased from the govern- 
ment ("entered") by one William Linn. 4 Thomas Lincoln, his 
wife Sarah, and his stepson John D. Johnston lived there until 
the spring of 1834. This was the only Coles County farm of 
Thomas Lincoln on which he was a "squatter." The four other 
properties he occupied were his own or his stepson's. 

The Lincoln National Memorial Highway passes near the Buck 
Grove farm. A historical marker informs the passerby that "From 
1831 to 1834 Thomas and Sarah Lincoln, father and stepmother 
of Abraham Lincoln, lived in a cabin which stood a short distance 
to the north. It was their first home in Coles County and their 
second home in Illinois." 

Mr. Alexander Summers of Mattoon, a Director of the Illinois 
State Historical Society, accompanied by three other local history 
enthusiasts, on June 21, 1952, located what are possibly the 
corner stones of the Thomas Lincoln cabin at Buck Grove. Dr. 
O. W. Ferguson, born in 1859, was a member of the party. He 
remembered having seen the cabin before its disappearance, 
when he was about thirteen years old, or eighty years before. 
This would have been about forty-two years after its erection in 
1831. Dr. Ferguson describes it as "a pole log house, the poles 
being about four inches in diameter." He recalled that the house 

3 Cavins, p. 3; Benjamin P. Thomas: "The Coles County Lincoln Cabin," 
in Bulletin of the Abraham Lincoln Association, No. 41, December 1935, p. 3. 
Cited hereafter as Thomas, Lincoln Cabin. The survey description of this 
first Coles County home of Thomas Lincoln is SW14, NW14. Sect. 5, Town 11 
N., Range 8 E. Another location, near to the one given above, was stated to 
be the first Coles County home of the Lincolns by Mr. T. J. Diehl, whose 
affidavit appeared in the Lerna Weekly Eagle for May 23, 1930. Mr. Diehl 
stated that his father, George Diehl, about 1869 or 1870 showed him the 
location of the Lincoln home on the NE14, NE14, Sect. 6, T. 11 N., R. 8 E. 
"The foundation logs of an old place were plainly visible," he stated. In files 
of Lincoln National Life Foundation, Fort Wayne, Indiana. The quarter sec- 
tion in which this 40 acres is located remained public land until December 27, 
1836 and January 21, 1837, when lots one and two, respectively, of the NE14 
of Sect. 6, T. 11 N„ R. 8 E. were entered by George M. Hanson. Land Entry 

4 The date was January 23, 1837. Land Entry Book. The "Buck Grove" 
farm of Thomas Lincoln is now part of a farm owned by Mr. Charles W. 

Abraham's Visit to His Folks in 1831 21 

had two rooms, and the door faced north. When he saw it "there 
were cracks between the poles, and sheep had possession of it." 
Mr. Summers and his friends searched for signs of a house loca 
tion in the forty-acre tract where Thomas Lincoln had his home 
from 1831 to 1834. He reports that they "entered a wooded sec- 
tion north of the terminus of the lane [which runs north from the 
highway at the point where the marker is located]. Here, after a 
diligent search, we uncovered several stones which appeared to 
have been foundation piers." These stones, about fifteen by 
twenty inches across, were set in a pattern. The house was eighteen 
by twenty feet, as shown by the stones, and was built parallel to 
a small stream. Thus it faced about fifteen degrees to the north- 
east instead of true north. 

There is a difficulty in the way of accepting these stones as 
those used for the Thomas Lincoln cabin of 1831. The stones 
when examined by the writer, had half-sections of drill holes on 
their sides, indicating that they had been split by blasting. This 
method of securing stones of suitable size to use as the pier stones 
at the corners of a cabin would hardly have been used in Coles 
County in 1831, nor was there a rock quarry in the neighborhood. 
More likely, the stones at the Buck Grove location mark the site 
of a later structure, quite possibly on the same site as the original 
Thomas Lincoln cabin. 

It is probable that Abraham Lincoln visited his father and 
stepmother in their Buck Grove cabin in the summer of 1831, 
for about a month. He had no intention of remaining, for 
he had accepted an offer to clerk in Denton Offut's store in 
New Salem. 5 

The flatboat party, including Lincoln, returned from New 
Orleans on a river steamboat in June 1831. According to Hern- 
don, they left the boat at St. Louis, and Lincoln, Johnston, and 
Hanks started out on foot to the east. They separated at 
Edwardsville, Hanks heading for Springfield and Lincoln and 
his stepbrother following the road to Coles County. Here Lincoln 
stayed for a few weeks before going on to New Salem, probably 
about the end of July 1831. 6 

Lincoln did not mention this Coles County visit in the sketch 
he wrote in 1860 for campaign purposes. Concerning this period 
he stated: 

A's father, with his own family & others mentioned, had, in pur- 
suance of their intention, removed from Macon to Coles county. John 


Beveridge, vol. I, p. 108; Barton, vol. I, p. 154. Lincoln spelled the name 
utt in his 1860 autobiographical sketch. Collected Works, vol. IV, p. 63. 


D. Johnston, the step-mother's son, went to them; and A. stopped in- 
definitely, and, for the first time, as it were, by himself at New Salem, 
before mentioned. This was in July 1831. 7 
Did Lincoln and Johnston reach Buck Grove in time to help 
in building the cabin for Thomas Lincoln? Probably not, as 
they arrived about July first, and Thomas Lincoln had been in 
the neighborhood for nearly two months. With neighbors and 
relatives available, Thomas hardly would have awaited their un- 
certain return before building his house. 8 If Abraham did assist 
his father in building any of the Coles County homes, Buck Grove 
was the most likely one. It is unlikely that he was in the county 
during the building of any of the other Lincoln houses. Accord- 
ing to tradition in the Sawyer family, Thomas Lincoln was as- 
sisted in the building of his house at Buck Grove by John Sawyer, 
Charles Sawyer, and Elisha Linder. Charles Sawyer and Linder 
had settled at Wabash Point in 1827, a year later than John 
Sawyer. The latter has been described as "the best friend that 
Thomas Lincoln ever had, both in Kentucky and in Illinois. " 9 

The only remembered incident of Abraham's July 1831 visit 
to Buck Grove was his wrestling match with Daniel Needham at 

Herndon, p. 64; John Hanks to Herndon, June 13, 1865, Herndon-Weik 
photostats, No. 159. It is possible that John Hanks did not make the New 
Orleans trip, but got no farther than St. Louis. Lincoln in his short auto- 
biography written for the campaign of 1860, recalled that "Hanks had not 
gone to New-Orleans, but having a family, and being likely to be detained 
from home longer than at first expected, had turned back from St. Louis." 
Collected Works, vol. IV, p. 64. Did Lincoln's memory fail him at this point? 
It is possible, for John Hanks, in his letter to Herndon, stated "we both 
[Hanks and Lincoln] came back to St. Louis from New Orleans together, 
Johnson [Johnston] being with us from Decatur to New Orleans and back." 
Dennis Hanks in 1865 told Herndon that "Mr. L. came back to Coles County 
in the spring following [the New Orleans trip] — remained with his father 
a few days and then went to Salem." Dennis Hanks to Herndon, June 15, 
1865, Herndon-Weik photostats, No. 162. Dennis was wrong on two counts: 
the visit took place in the summer and lasted a few weeks rather than a few 

7 Collected Works, vol. IV, p. 64. Nor did Lincoln mention visiting Coles 
County in a briefer autobiographical sketch written for Jesse W. Fell on 
December 20, 1859. He stated: "At twenty-one I came to Illinois, and passed 
the first year in Illinois — Macon County. Then I got to New Salem. . . ." 
Collected Works, vol. Ill, p. 512. 

8 Strictly speaking, all of Lincoln's homes were log houses rather than log 
"cabins." The difference is that a cabin was built of unhewn logs, while a 
log house was built of logs hewn flat on two sides with a broad axe. This 
probably was true of all five Coles County homes used by Lincoln. Photo- 
graphs of the original Goosenest Prairie house (completed in 1840) show 
this type of construction. 

"Statement by Mr. Clarence W. Bell, in Springfield on September 18, 1930. 
In Lerna Weekly Eagle, clipping, no date, in scrapbook of Mr. George P. 
Rodgers. But note that Mrs. Dole, p. 115, states that Charles Sawyer came to 
Wabash Point in 1826 and John Sawyer, his brother, in 1827. 

Abraham's Visit to His Folks in 1831 23 

Wabash Point. According to Herndon, Abraham did not tarry 
long at his father's house, but was there long enough to dispose 
of Needham, who challenged him to a bout, which took place 
at Wabash Point. Young Lincoln threw Needham twice with 
comparative ease. This demonstration of strength and agility 
made him "forever popular with the boys of that neighbor- 
hood." 10 Lamon tells the story in greater detail. Needham looked 
upon Abraham as a rival, and "had a fancy to try him a fall or 
two/' He greeted Lincoln in a friendly and hearty manner, but 
his challenge was "rough and peremptory. " Valuing his standing 
among "the boys," Abraham accepted the challenge, and they 
met at Wabash Point. Needham was thrown twice with so much 
ease that his pride was stung. He told Lincoln that although he 
had thrown him twice, Lincoln could not whip him. Lincoln 
replied, "Needham, are you satisfied that I can throw you? 
If you are not, and must be convinced through a threshing, I will 
do that too, for your sake." Finding Lincoln ready to whip him 
for his own good, Needham decided that a bloody nose and a 
black eye would not soothe his feelings, "and therefore sur- 
rendered the field with such grace as he could command." 11 

Local tradition has it that Needham and Lincoln, who were 
about the same height, six feet three or four, wrestled at a "house 
raising" or "log-rolling." Needham was thrown four times (in- 
stead of twice) in succession. Angry at first, Lincoln's good nature 
overcame Needham's irritation and the two men shook hands 
and became lasting friends. This account was recorded in 1892 
by Alonzo Hilton Davis, who clerked for four years in a dry- 
goods store in Charleston after the Civil War. 12 Davis' account 
is inaccurate at a number of points. It has Abraham living at 
the time in the first of the two Goosenest Prairie homes, to which 
Thomas Lincoln did not move until 1837. Needham is described 
as the champion wrestler of Cumberland County, which was not 
created until 1843, and the match is described as taking place 
on the Embarrass River rather than at Wabash Point. 

Probably near the end of July 1831, Abraham Lincoln left 
Coles County for New Salem, which was his home until he moved 
to Springfield in April 1837. Did Abraham return to Coles 
County for one or more visits during the period of his residence 
in New Salem? Agustus H. Chapman, husband of Mrs. Sarah 

10 Herndon, p. 64. 

11 Lamon, pp. 83-84. 

12 "Lincoln's Goose Nest Home," in Century Magazine, September 1892, 
pp. 798-799. 


Bush Lincoln's granddaughter Harriet Hanks, told Herndon in 
1865 that Abraham visited his father's family in Coles County 
after the Black Hawk War. 13 

If Abraham did visit his folks after the Black Hawk War, it was 
because he accompanied his stepbrother John D. Johnston home 
after their discharge on July 10, 1832, at Burnt River, near the 
present city of Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin. They were messmates 
in the same company during the period of John's service, from 
June 16 until their discharge. This was in Captain Jacob M. 
Early's independent spy, or ranger company in which Lincoln 
had reenlisted from Captain Elijah He's company. Captain 
Early's men had difficulty keeping their horses, for the Adjutant 
General's report shows nine members of the company, including 
Johnston, as "hunting horses." Lincoln is not listed as a horse 
hunter, but on the day of his discharge he lost his horse to a 
thief (or to a soldier "hunting horses"). 

It is very unlikely that Lincoln went to Coles County with 
Johnston following their discharge. By July 17 Lincoln had 
reached Havana on his way to New Salem. The Sangamo 
Journal of Springfield for July 19 carried a notice, at Lincoln's 
request, about those candidates for the legislature, including 
Lincoln, who had served in the Black Hawk War. During the 
remainder of July, and to August 4, Lincoln was campaigning. 
There seems to have been no time unaccounted for during this 
period when Lincoln could have been in Coles County. 14 

Elected to the legislature on August 4, 1834, Lincoln served 
four terms, or until early in 1841. Five legislative sessions were 
held at Vandalia while he was a member: December 1, 1834 -Feb- 
ruary 13, 1835; December 7, 1835 - February 7, 1836; December 5, 
1836 -March 6, 1837; July 10-22, 1837, and December 3, 1838- 
January 15, 1839. It is possible that Lincoln may have visited his 
parents in Coles County before or after at least one of these ses- 
sions. Vandalia is sixty miles or more by road from the three 
Thomas Lincoln homes in Coles County of this period. Harry E. 
Pratt, in his "day-by-day" study of Lincoln for the period ending 
in 1839, finds no evidence placing Lincoln in Coles County dur- 
ing the periods before or after these sessions. 15 However, Usher 

"Chapman to Herndon, September 8, 1865. Herndon-Weik Photostats, Nos. 
301-324. Lincoln served in the Black Hawk War from April 21 to July 10, 
1832. Illinois Adjutant General's Report, 1902, vol. IX, pp. 100, 174, 176. 
Cited hereafter as A. G. R. Pratt, 1809-1839, pp. 11-21. 

14 A. G. P. vol. TX, p. 176: Pratt, 1809-1839, p. 21. 

15 Pratt, 1809-1839, pp. 42-45, 51-52, 61-62, 71-72. There are no entries for 
the period from November 12 to December 5, 1835, both inclusive (p. 44) . 

Abraham's Visit to His Folks in 1831 25 

F. Linder, Charleston lawyer and friend of Lincoln, (writing in 
1876), reported that he first met Lincoln at Charleston in the 
fall of 1835. Lincoln, as Linder correctly noted, had not yet been 
admitted to the bar, and was in Charleston for a visit with his 
relatives who lived nearby. This would have been shortly before 
the session of the legislature which opened on December 7, 1835. 
Linder recalled that "The impression that Mr. Lincoln made up- 
on me when I first saw him at the hotel in Charleston was very 
slight. He had the appearance of a good-natured, easy unam- 
bitious man, of plain good sense, and unobtrusive in his manners. 
At that time he told me no stories and perpetrated no jokes." 16 

The first legal controversy in Coles County involving the 
Thomas Lincoln family of which the writer has seen a record 
occurred while the family was living at Buck Grove. On De- 
cember 21, 1831, John D. Johnston, Thomas' stepson, sued George 
M. Hanson for twelve dollars before Justice of the Peace James 
T. Cunningham and received a judgment of seven dollars and 
costs of 92 Yz cents. The suit was over money due for breaking 
seven acres of wheat land. Hanson appealed the decision to 
the Coles County Circuit Court, presided over at that time by 
Judge William Wilson. The writer has seen no record of the 
final disposition of the case. 17 

The following table should be helpful to the reader in fol- 
lowing the various land transactions described in the next two 

Real estate transactions involving Thomas Lincoln, Abraham 

Lincoln, and John D. Johnston, Coles County, 1833-1851. 

The descriptions refer to quarters of quarter sections, halves of quarter 
sections, quarter sections, sections, townships North, and ranges East, of the 
Third Principal Meridian. All of the property described is located within 
the limits of the present Pleasant Grove Township of Coles County. See map 
on page (27). 

10 Usher F. Linder: Reminiscences of the Early Bench and Bar of Illinois, 
1879, pp. 37-40. Cited hereafter as Linder. The meeting with Lincoln prob- 
ably occurred in the latter part of November or early in December. Lincoln 
was in Vandalia on December 7, 1835, and possibly a day or two earlier. 

17 Records of case in justice's court, and of appeal action, in lower vault of 
office of Coles County Circuit Clerk. The first volume of the Circuit Court 
records for Coles County begins with the April 1835 term, Justin Harlan, 
judge. Hanson's appeal bond for $75, signed by him and by Nathan Ellington, 
was filed with Circuit Clerk J. P. Jones on January 10, 1832. Summons to 
appear as witnesses were served on Thomas Lincoln, Squire Hall, his stepson- 
in-law, and Samuel Radley, on April 19, 1832. 





Sect. T. R. 


Price Coles County 
Deed Records 

May 23, '33 NW, SW, 10 11 8 
Mar. 14, '34 The same 

Nov. 25, '34 SE, NE; 

NE, SE, 16 11 

The same The same 

Jan. 14, '37 S!/2, NE, 21 11 9 
May 3, '37 NW, SW, 10 11 8 

Aug. 4, '37 NE, SE, 

Dec. 27, '37 SE, NE; 

NE, SE, 

21 11 9 

16 11 8 

Feb. 23, '38 The same 

Mar. 5, '40 Sl/2, NE, 21 11 9 

The same NW, SE; 

NE, SW, 21 11 9 

Dec. 31, '40 NE, SE, 21 11 9 

Oct. 25, '41 The same 

The same The same 

Mar. 13, '42 NW, SE, 21 11 9 

Jan. 17, '51 NW, SE, 

NE, SW, 21 11 9 

Aug. 12, '51 The same 
Nov. 28, '51 The same 

USA to John D. Johnston $50 Entry book 
Public land entry, 40 acres. 

Johnston to Thomas Lin- 
coln. The "Muddy Point" 

USA to Thomas Lincoln 
Public land entry, 80 a. 
The "Plummer Place." 

Mortgage, $102, Thomas 
Lincoln to Charles S. Mor- 
ton, School Commissioner. 

USA to Thomas Lincoln. 
Public land entry, 80 a. 

Thomas Lincoln to Alex- 
ander Montgomery. Sale of 
"Muddy Point" farm. 

USA to Johnston. Public 
land entry. The "Abra- 
ham Forty." 40 a. 

Thomas Lincoln to Daniel 
P. Needham. Sale of the 
"Plummer Place" 80 a. 

Mortgage of Nov. 25, '34 

Thomas Lincoln to Reub- 
en Moore. 80a. Entered bv 
T. Lincoln, Jan. 14, '37. 

Reuben Moore to Thomas 
Lincoln. 80 a. The "Goose- 
nest Prairie" farm. 

Johnston to Thomas Lin- 
coln 40 a. The "Abraham 

Thomas Lincoln to Abra- 
ham Lincoln 40 a. 

Bond, A. Lincoln to John- 
ston to sell for $200 after 
deaths of Thomas and 
Sarah Lincoln. 

Mortgage, $50, Thomas 
Lincoln to School Trustees 
T. 11 N., R. 9 E. 40 a. 
The eastern half of the 
"Goosenest Prairie" farm. 

Abraham Lincoln inherit- 
ed on death of Thomas 
Lincoln 80 a. 

Abraham Lincoln to John- 
ston, 80 a. 

Johnston to John J. Hall 
80 a. 

75 Vol. A, p. 304 

100 Entry book 

Vol. B, p. 55 

100 Entry book 

140 Vol. H, p. 116 

50 Entry book 

222.50 Vol. C, p. 6 

Vol. B, p. 55 

400 Vol. E, pp. 361- 

400 Vol. G, p. 7 

50 Vol. G, p. 6 

200 Vol. G, p. 5 

Vol. I, p. 43 
Recorded 12-3-51 

Vol. G, p. 243 

$1 Vol. O, p. 215 
250 Vol. Q, p. 122 

Abraham's Visit to His Folks in 1831 





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The Thomas Lincoln Family at Muddy Point 

WHILE ABRAHAM WAS starting his political career at New 
Salem his father was making a series of moves, all within the 
limits of the present Pleasant Grove Township of Coles County. 
On May 23, 1833, his stepson John D. Johnston had purchased 40 
acres of public land in section 10 of the same survey township 
as the Buck Grove home. 1 On March 14, 1834, Johnston sold this 
property to his stepfather for $75.00. 2 It is located in the "Muddy 
Point" neighborhood about two miles southeast of the Buck Grove 
farm, about one mile southwest of the present village of Lerna, 
and one mile east of the Muddy Point school. It is probable that 
the Thomas Lincoln family moved from Buck Grove to Muddy 
Point at about the time Thomas Lincoln purchased the land. 

A few months after moving to Muddy Point, on November 25, 
1834, Thomas Lincoln purchased an additional 80 acres of 
public land, in section 16 of the same township. 3 This land was 
purchased by Thomas Lincoln on credit. Since section 16 was 
"school land" the mortgage, for $102, was entered into with 
Charles S. Morton, the School Commissioner of Coles County. 
It was to be repaid in three years, at the rate of $34 a year. 4 

This period of residence at Muddy Point was at a time of 
expanding land ownership by Thomas Lincoln. On January 14, 
1837, a few months before leaving Muddy Point, he purchased 
80 acres of public land, presumably paying cash, since there is 
no mortgage record. 5 This land is about five and a half miles 
east of the Muddy Point farm. Thomas Lincoln exchanged this 

1 Entry on record in Land Entry Book. NWi/ 4> SW*4, Sect. 10, T. 11 N., R. 
8 E. 

2 Coles County Deed Records, vol. A, p. 304. 

3 Entry on record in Land Entry Book. SE14, NE14 and NE14, SE14, Sect. 
16, T. 11 N., R. 8 E. This is the property which later became known as the 
"Plummer Place." It is now owned by Mr. Edgar Riley. 

4 Deed Records, vol. B, p. 55. The mortgage was satisfied on February 23, 
1838. Morton was the man for whom Charleston was named, as explained 
earlier. He was school Commissioner until 1841. 

5 Land Entry Book. Si/ 2 , NE14, Sect. 21, T. 11 N., R. 9 E. 


Thomas Lincoln Family at Muddy Point 29 

land in 1840 with Reuben Moore for the adjoining "Goosenest 
Prairie" farm. 

Thomas Lincoln and Johnston probably erected a log house 
on the Muddy Point farm, which was their residence for three 
years, or until May 1837. It was during this period, on October 
16, 1834, that Johnston married eighteen-year-old Mary Barker. 
The first of Johnston's eight children, Thomas Lincoln Davis 
Johnston, was born here on January 10, 1837. 6 

Did Abraham Lincoln visit his folks at the Muddy Point farm? 
If Usher F. Linder is correct in his recollection that he first met 
Lincoln in Charleston in the fall of 1835, then Lincoln did make 
such a visit. Linder was elected to the legislature in 1836, and 
hence saw Lincoln at Vandalia in December of that year. Cer- 
tainly he would have known if he had not met him before. If 
their first meeting had been at Vandalia, Linder would have 
said so. 

The Linder story gives some credence to an otherwise highly 
circumstantial story told to Mr. William F. Cavins by Mrs. Susan 
D. Baker, life-long Coles County resident who was born in 1851, 
the daughter of Isaac W. Rodgers, a neighbor of Thomas Lincoln. 
Mrs. Baker recalled that in 1860, when she was nine years old, 
two well-dressed strangers asked her father if he knew where 
they could find some rails split by Abraham Lincoln. Mr. Rodgers 
took them to a fence the rails of which, he said, were split by 
Lincoln and Dennis Hanks. They took some of the rails away. 
Mrs. Baker described the place as being the approximate loca- 
tion of the Muddy Point farm. 7 

In 1835 Thomas Lincoln's stepson, John D. Johnston, was very 
active in the courts. On three occasions during that year (April 
4, November 5, and December 28) he was summoned as a grand 
jury witness or as a witness in circuit court. 8 The November 5 
summons caused complications, for on that date Johnston and 
his brother-in-law Squire Hall were arrested for "assaulting an 
officer in attempting to execute process," and for "gaming." Bail 

6 Marriage date in Coles County Marriage Records, 1831-1842, p. 24. The 
entry in the "family record" of Thomas Lincoln's family Bible, in the hand 
of Abraham Lincoln, gives the Johnston marriage date as October 13, 1834. 
Mrs. Mary Barker Johnston was born on July 22, 1816, and died on Septem- 
ber 21, 1850. She had seven children: Thomas (1837), Abraham (1838), 
Marietta (1840), Squire (1841), Richard (1843), Dennis (1845), and Daniel 

(1847) . On March 5, 1851, John D. Johnston married Nancy Jane Williams 
(born March 18, 1836) . They had one son, John D., Jr. (1854) . Facsimile of 
family record page in Sandburg; Lincoln Collector, p. 108. Cited hereafter 
as Sandburg, Collector. Bible entries in Collected Works, vol. II, pp. 94-95. 

7 Cavins, p. 4. Mrs. Baker died December 25, 1927. 


for each was fixed at $100 on the first charge and at $50 on the 
second. The assault case was tried before a jury on the following 
April 6 and Johnston was acquitted and Hall was found guilty. 
The court, "not being sufficiently advised what judgment to give 
took time ..." and postponed imposing sentence until the 
October term. On October 8, 1836, Hall received a sentence of a 
five dollar fine and twenty-four hours confinement in the county 
jail. That same day Johnston and Hall were found not guilty on 
the gaming charge. 9 

On the same day, October 8, 1836, that the assault and gaming 
cases against Johnston and Hall were settled, Thomas Lincoln, 
Dennis F. Hanks, Johnston, and Hall lost a suit brought against 
them by Noel M. Jones and Benjamin F. Norton. A year and 
a half previously, on March 4, 1835, the four defendants, together 
with one William Moffett, had signed a one-year lease on a saw 
and grist mill for which they were to pay $220. 12^2 at the end 
of the year. Total payments made amounted to $85.25 leaving a 
balance of $134,871/2- On June 6, 1836, when the unpaid bal- 
ance was two months overdue, Jones and Norton filed a complaint 
against the five lessors, and asked for damages of $220.12^ the 
full amount of the original lease agreement. On September 19, 
1836, the four defendants were admitted to bail as a result of a 
bond for $440.25 (twice the amount of the damages claimed), 
signed by them and by Thomas Barker and John Mills. Moffett 
the fifth signer of the lease was not found when the four de- 
fendants, Lincoln, Johnston, Hall, and Hanks, were served with 
a capias writ and placed under bond. Jones and Norton filed a bill 
of particulars on September 22, 1836, in which they alleged that 
the defendants had neglected and refused to pay the amount 
stipulated in the mill lease despite repeated requests. On October 
7, 1836, Thomas Lincoln, John D. Johnston, Squire Hall and 
Dennis F. Hanks confessed a judgment against them for $138.67. 
The next day in circuit court this agreement by the defendants 
formed the basis for the settlement, of the case. 10 

The papers on this case do not give the location of the mill 

H Johnston and Daniel P. Needham summoned before Coles County grand 
jury, April 4; Johnston and Squire Hall summoned to circuit court to testify 
in behalf of John M. Eastin and N. L. Killin, indicted for "gaming," Novem- 
ber 5; and Johnston summoned to testify against Robert Lake, indicted for 
assault with intent to commit murder, on December 28, for April 1836 term 
of the Coles County Circuit Court. Summons on file in lower vault of 
Circuit Clerk's office. 

9 Coles County Circuit Court Record, vol. I, pp. 58, 63, 83. Cited hereafter 
as Circuit Court Record. 

Thomas Lincoln Family at Muddy Point 31 

leased by Thomas Lincoln and the four other men. Many years 
later a daughter of Dennis Hanks, Mrs. Sarah Jane Dowling, 
stated that Thomas Lincoln and her father had operated a grist 
mill on the Embarrass River for two years. 11 It is not clear from 
the record whether or not the 1835 mill lease was the first entered 
into by Lincoln, Hanks, Hall, Johnston, and Moffett, or by one 
or more of them. It may have been a renewal for a second year of 
operation, possibly with additional partners brought into the 

Thomas Lincoln sold his Muddy Point farm on May 3, 1837, 
to one Alexander Montgomery for $140. 12 The size of the 
judgment in the mill suit suggests the possibility that this sale 
in May following the October judgment may have had some re- 
lationship to this liability. In October 1836 Thomas Lincoln 
owned free of debt only the Muddy Point property. The prop- 
erty purchased in November 1834 was still encumbered by the 
mortgage to the School Commissioner. 

An historical marker is on the Memorial Highway at a point 
nearest to the Muddy Point home of the Thomas Lincoln family. 
It reads: "In 1834 Thomas Lincoln purchased forty acres situated 
about 400 yards north and east of this point. Here, with his 
wife, Sarah, he lived until 1837, when he sold the land. It was his 
second home in Coles County. " 

Following the sale of the Muddy Point farm it is probable 
that the Lincoln and Johnston families moved for a few months 
to the 80-acre farm Thomas Lincoln had purchased on November 

10 Circuit Court Record, vol. I, p. 84. The papers in this case were filed in 
the lower vault of the Circuit Clerk's office. They are now in the Illinois State 
Historical Library. Jones and Norton were bringing suit as the guardians of 
Lucinda and Millis R. Shaw, the infant heirs of James Shaw, deceased. The 
1835 mill lease has Thomas Lincoln signing by mark, but the 1836 confession 
of judgment bears Thomas Lincoln's signature, with the word "his" appear- 
ing above and between "Thomas" and "Lincoln." This looks as though the 
person drawing up the document expected Lincoln to sign by mark, but was 
interrupted by Lincoln before completing the usual "his mark" with a space 
for the cross or mark. The bond of September 19, 1836, was signed by Lincoln 
— "Thos. Lincoln." Thomas Lincoln was able to sign his name, but judging 
from the 1835 document he also was willing to make his mark instead. 

11 Quoted in Rexford Newcomb: In the Lincoln Country, p. 83. Augustus 
H. Chapman stated to William H. Herndon on September 8, 1865, that 
Thomas Lincoln rented How's Mill on the Embarrass River for one year, and 
that "while there his son Abe spent some time with him." Hcrndon-Weik 
photostats, No. 305. This may have been the visit in November or December 
1835 mentioned by Linder. 

12 Deed Records, vol. H, p. 116. Text of deed instrument in Sandburg, Col- 
lector, pp. 138-140. From Barrett Collection. Signed "Thomas Lincoln" and 
"Sarah Lincoln (her mark) ." The present owner of the land is Mr. J. Will 


25, 1834. This farm was only about half a mile south of the 
Muddy Point farm. It has become known, misleadingly, as the 
"Plummer Place" after a later owner. The fact that he had 
purchased this property, and that probably the next move to 
the land in the "Goosenest Prairie" region a few miles to the 
east did not take place until August 1837 would make it seem 
that the tradition that Thomas Lincoln lived here in 1837 is 
correct. 13 Benjamin P. Thomas, who in 1935 made a study of 
the Coles County homes of the Lincolns, states that the Plummer 
Place purchase and residence has a basis only in tradition, and is 
contradicted by another tradition, that the Thomas Lincoln 
family moved directly in August 1837 from Muddy Point to 
Goosenest Prairie. 14 The leaflet describing the "Lincoln Log 
Cabin State Park," issued by the Illinois Department of Public 
Works and Buildings, and which gives the various Coles County 
homes of Thomas Lincoln, does not refer to the Plummer Place, 
but states that he moved from his 1834-1837 home southwest of 
Lerna to Goosenest Prairie. 15 There is no "Plummer Place" 
marker on the Memorial Highway, which passes close to the loca- 
tion. The writer believes that there is a strong probability 
that Thomas Lincoln did occupy this property for a few months 
in 1837. 

If Thomas Lincoln did live at the Plummer Place from May 
to August of 1837 it is almost certain that his son Abraham did 
not visit them there. This was the period immediately following 
Abraham's admission to the bar (March 1) and his move from 
New Salem to Springfield (April 15). He was busy getting him- 
self established in his profession and in his new location. Abra- 
ham Lincoln attended the session of the legislature at Vandalia, 
July 10-22, 1837, and it is possible that he visited Coles County 
before or after those dates, but there is no acceptable evidence 
that he did. Mr. Cavins reports that George Balch of Pleasant 
Grove Township had stated that Abraham Lincoln was seen by 
his Counsin George B. Balch, the poet, "making his way, walk- 
ing in the woods to his father's, when living here [the Plummer 
Place]." George B. Balch was a child living at the time in a 

13 Gavins, p. 4, accepts the move to this property as a fact, as did Mr. Adolf 
Summerlin of Lerna, Illinois, in a speech at Springfield on February 27, 1929, 
on the occasion of the organization of "The Lincoln National Memorial High- 
way of Illinois." Printed copy of the speech in the possession of the writer. 

14 Thomas, Lincoln Cabin, p. 3. 

15 Illinois Department of Public Works and Buildings: Lincoln Log Cabin 
State Park, leaflet. 

Thomas Lincoln Family at Muddy Point 33 

cabin on the same property. 16 This report can not be accepted 
by itself as conclusive evidence. Since George B. Balch was born 
in November 1828, he would have been less than nine years old 
in the summer of 1837. 

If we accept the Plummer Place residence from May to August, 
1837, the question arises, why did Thomas Lincoln sell his Muddy 
Point property before he was ready to move to a permanent loca- 
tion? It is possible that Thomas Lincoln sold his Muddy Point 
farm before he was ready to move in order to take advantage of 
a chance to nearly double his money, since he paid $75 and sold 
for $140. Also it is possible that a shortage of money (the cost 
of the 80 acres he had bought from the government in January 
1837, was $100) induced him to sell. Another possible explana- 
tion, as was suggested above, is the unsettled mill lease judgment 
against Lincoln, Johnston, Hanks, and Hall, going back to the 
preceding October. 

Again, if we accept the Plummer Place residence, the* question 
arises, why did he not move to the land he had purchased the 
preceding January 14? There appears to be no satisfactory answer. 
On August 4, 1837, his stepson John D. Johnston purchased 40 
acres of public land 17 to which both families probably moved 
shortly after the purchase. This land lay on the south boundary 
of the land Thomas Lincoln had purchased in January of that 
year. Tradition has it that there was a house on this Johnston 
property, probably built by a squatter in 1835. 18 This in itself 
would have been a reason for Thomas Lincoln moving to this 
property instead of his own 80 acres. Also, he may have pre- 
ferred the location of the Johnston tract, and may have planned 
on purchasing it, as he did in 1840. If there was no cabin on the 
Johnston property it is probable that Thomas Lincoln and 
Jornston erected one prior to moving to the land. Presumably this 
would have been either immediately before or after Johnston's 
purchase of the property on August 4, 1837. If they built the 
cabin in the spring of 1837, in anticipation of the purchase, this 
would provide an explanation for the Plummer Place residence 

16 Cavins, p. 4. 

"Record of entry in Land Entry Book. NE14, SE14, Sect. 21, T. 11 N., R. 

18 Charleston Plaindealer, no date, probably some time in February 1892. 
Photostats of original in the files of the Abraham Lincoln Association, Spring- 
field, and in the possession of the writer. Thomas, p. 4, quotes from this 
article a description of the cabin as it stood prior to its removal to Chicago 
early in 1892. He points out. that if it was erected in 1835 it hardly could 
have been built by Lincoln and Johnston. 


from May to August, while the cabin was bein completed. We 
must assume that there was a cabin on the Plummer Place, per- 
haps built by Thomas Lincoln and Johnston following the pur- 
chase by Thomas Lincoln in 1834, or possibly immediately prior 
to May 1837. 

The Goosenest Prairie Homes of the Lincotns 

IT IS PROBABLE that in August 1837 the Thomas Lincoln 
and Johnston families moved to the 40 acres Johnston had pur- 
chased on the fourth of that month, and lived in the house on 
that property. The house either had just been completed by 
Thomas Lincoln and Johnston, or had been built as early as 
1835, presumably by a squatter. 

There is a remote possibility that Thomas Lincoln and 
Johnston may have built the cabin themselves as early as 1835, in 
anticipation of the move they made in 1837, but this is unlikely. 
Numerous entries of public land in this neighborhood were made 
in the 1830's. The existence of an empty cabin on unentered 
public land would have attracted a purchaser. It is difficult to 
believe that the land Johnston purchased in August 1837 would 
have remained unentered for two years with a completed cabin 
on it. 

Before leaving the question of the date of the erection of the 
cabin on the property Johnston purchased in 1837, one bit of 
evidence tending to support the theory that it was erected by a 
squatter in 1835, should be given. There are three structural 
differences between the two parts of the Goosenest Prairie cabin. 
After the second part was erected in 1840, the first structure was 
moved to join it and form a double cabin. Taken individually 
these differences would have no significance. But three — ? The 
earlier cabin was 16 feet by 18 feet in size. The second was 16 
feet square. The beams or rafters supporting the floor of the 
loft or attic went through the walls and showed on the outside 
of the first cabin, but not the second cabin. The inside ladder 
to the loft was fixed in the first cabin; but was hinged in 
the second and could be kept out of the way, attached to the 
ceiling beams. Were the two structures built by different hands? 
It is possible. 1 

Did Abraham Lincoln have any part in the erection of the 
cabin occupied by the Thomas Lincoln and Johnston families 




r4T %\ * . * 

The Goosenest Prairie Cabin of Thomas Lincoln. 

Picture probably taken in 1891, about the time of its 
sale by John J. Hall to James W. Craig on May 8, 
1891. (Print from the Library of Congress.) 

Goosenest Prairie Homes of the Lincolns 37 

from 1837 to 1840? If we make the improbable assumption that 
the cabin was erected by his father and stepbrother in 1835, 
Abraham may have had a hand in its erection. As we have seen, 
Lincoln was in Coles County in the late fall of 1835, when Usher 
F. Linder saw him in Charleston. However, if the cabin was 
erected in 1837, Abraham almost certainly had no part in its 
construction, there being no evidence that Abraham was in Coles 
County then. Benjamin P. Thomas gives it as his opinion that 
"there is only the remotest possibility that Lincoln could have 
had any part in building this cabin. And there is no doubt 
whatever that he never lived in it." 2 The writer agrees. 

On December 27, 1837, a few months after leaving the 80-acre 
Plummer Place, Thomas Lincoln sold that property to one Daniel 
P. Needham (the wrestler of 1831?) for $222.50 3 The mortgage 
against this land was unsatisfied at the time of the sale, so pre- 
sumably Needham assumed the balance due. The mortgage was 
satisfied on February 23, 1838, whether by Needham or Thomas 
Lincoln the record does not state. 4 

Near the close of 1837, Thomas Lincoln was sued for a debt 
of $9.00 for a bedstead, by "Hazlett and Miller. " It appears that 
he lost, for a summons was served on him by Constable J. Barham 
(?) on January 24, 1838. The total amount owed by Thomas 
was $10.25, including costs, and mileage for the constable. 5 What 
was this debt? A store account? The writer does not know, and has 
seen no reference to the case other than the writ of execution. 
The name "Miller" suggests that this suit may have been related 
to a suit brought against Thomas Lincoln and John D. Johnston 
two years later, involving Stephen and James M. Miller. Was 

1 Size and beam differences show in photographs of the original. The differ- 
ences in the interior ladders are found in the replica cabin, erected by the 
State of Illinois. The replica is unusually accurate, and was based on descrip- 
tions of old residents who were familiar with the original, as well as photo- 

2 Thomas, Lincoln Cabin, p. 7. 

3 Deed Records, vol. C, p. 456. The original deed of sale from Thomas and 
Sarah Lincoln is owned by Mr. Henry Engbring of Effingham, Illinois, who 
kindly showed it to the writer. It is signed by Thomas Lincoln. Sarah 
Lincoln made her "mark," with her name written in Thomas Lincoln's hand- 
writing. The signatures, and Mrs. Lincoln's acknowledgment, both were 
witnessed by Justice of the Peace David Dryden. The land conveyed was the 
SE14, NE14 and NE14, SE14, Sect. 16, T. 11 N., R. 8 E. The deed was filed on 
Feb. 23, 1838 and recorded on Feb. 28, 1838 by Nathan Ellington, Recorder. 

4 Deed Records, vol. B, p. 55. A notation on the side of the entry in the 
Deed Records reads: "satisfied Feb. 23, 1838. C. S. Morton, School Com." 

5 Photostat of writ of execution in files of Illinois State Historical Library. 
Courtesy of Dr. H. E. Pratt. 


Johnston a party to the Hazlett and Miller suit? The incomplete 
record leaves that question unanswered. 

On January 11, 1840, near the end of the residence on John- 
ston's forty acres, Thomas Lincoln and John D. Johnston lost a 
suit before Justice of the Peace Stephen B. Shelledy to one Isaac 
Sears, suing for the use of Stephen and James M. Miller. The 
suit was based on a note for $26.82 1 / / 2 dated April 18, 1839, 
bearing twelve percent interest, and due December 25, 1839, 
signed by Johnston and Lincoln. The note represented two 
judgments Sears held against Johnston. The award to Sears by 
a jury in the court of Justice Shelledy was $30.77 and costs. On 
March 21, 1840 Lincoln and Johnston appealed to the Circuit 
Court, where on September 30, 1840, the judgment was reversed 
and Lincoln and Johnston received their "costs and charges" from 
the plaintiff. The successful appeal was based on the fact that 
Johnston and Lincoln had paid the note in question, as evidenced 
by a receipt signed by Sears and dated May 19, 1839. G 

Did Abraham Lincoln act in this case for his father and step- 
brother? The records seen do not give the names of the lawyers 
in the case, but two factors suggest that possibility. One of the 
documents in the case is a witness attendance certificate dated 
March 21, 1840, the date of the appeal, and filled in by one M. B. 
Ross who had testified for Thomas Lincoln and Johnston. The 
certificate as filled in by Ross, and signed by him and Nathan 
Ellington, clerk of the Circuit Court, is for attendance at the 
suit of "S. 8c J. M. Miller vs. Jn. D. Johnston 8c Abram Lincoln." 
Why "Abram" rather than "Thomas?" Could it have been that 
Abraham's name occurred to Ross because he had assisted his 
father in preparing his appeal? Another factor suggesting Abra- 
ham's connection with the case was that Lincoln may have been 
in Charleston about the time (September 30, 1840) the case 
came up in the Circuit Court. He was campaigning for the Whig 
ticket, on which he was an elector. There is a tradition that 
Abraham Lincoln spoke in Charleston during the 1840 campaign. 
The traditional site of the speech was just north of the Big 

6 Circuit Court Record, vol. I, pp. 288, 339. The papers in the case are in 
the lower vault of the Circuit Clerk's office, box "1840." The costs in the 
case amounted to $29.43, Coles County Cost Bill Docket, 1837-1844, n.p. A 
mutilated note, dated August 15, 1839, in the Illinois State Historical Library, 
reads: "Loned to T Lincoln & Johnston 16 Dollar in silver." The signature 
is missing. Prom Barrett Collection. Why did Lincoln and Johnston borrow 
this money? Who loaned it to them? When was it repaid? The writer does 
pot know. 

Goosenest Prairie Homes of the Lincolns 39 

Four tracks at about Fourteenth street. 7 One bit of evidence 
which points away from Lincoln's being in Charleston on Sep- 
tember 30 is the fact that a case, in which he was an attorney at 
Tremont, Illinois (25 miles west of Bloomington), came up for 
consideration, was reinstated and continued on September 30. 
Was Lincoln in Tremont on that day? Or was the continuance 
granted because of the absence of Lincoln, an attorney in the 
case? 8 

From August 1837 until March 1840 Thomas and Sarah Lin- 
coln lived with John D. Johnston, his wife Mary, and their two 
boys in the one-room cabin on Johnston's forty acres. Of course 
the cabin was crowded. 

In March 1840 Thomas Lincoln exchanged the land he had 
purchased in January 1837 for eighty acres that Reuben Moore 
owned immediately to the west of Johnston's land. This latter 
had been purchased by Moore from the government on May 21, 
1839. 9 The exchange of the two eighty acre plots was recorded as 
two separate sales, both on March 5, 1840, and both involving a 
consideration of $400. 10 Both Lincoln and Moore signed the 
deeds, and both Sarah Lincoln and Mary Moore made their 
marks. David Dryden, Justice of the Peace, witnessed both 
documents. Since it was an even exchange, there was no actual 
cash outlay on either side. The $400 was for the record. 11 
Actually, five dollars an acre was an excessive valuation for the 
land at that time. 

Lincoln and Johnston decided to enlarge the crowded cabin. 
They did not build an addition to it where it stood, but rather 
erected another log house on the land recently acquired from 

7 "Lincoln Pilgrimage," Charleston, July 11, 1932, leaflet in the possession 
of the writer, marks spot "where Lincoln delivered an address in 1840." The 
Sangamo Journal for September 25, 1840, states that "Mr. Lincoln is still in 
the lower part of the state, addressing the People." Microfilm in Illinois State 
Historical Library. 

8 Harry E. Pratt: Lincoln Day-by-Day, 1840-1846, p. 40. Cited hereafter as 
Pratt, 1840-1846. Pratt places Lincoln in Springfield on March 21, 1840, the 
date of Thomas Lincoln and Johnston's appeal (p. 12) . 

9 Land Entry Book. Moore's two Land Office receipts, for $50 each, Pales- 
tine, Illinois, May 21, 1839, in Illinois State Historical Library. From Barrett 
Collection. Moore is described as of "Butler County, Ohio." 

10 Deed Records, vol. E, pp. 361-362 (Lincoln to Moore) ; vol. G, p. 7 (Moore 
to Lincoln) Moore thus secured the Si/ Q , NE14, and Lincoln the NW14, SE14, 
and the NE14. SW14, all in Section 21,~T. 11 N., R. 9 E. 

11 The original deed from Reuben and Mary Moore to Thomas Lincoln, 
witnessed March 5, 1840, is in the Illinois State Historical Library. From the 
Barrett Collection. In mutilated condition. 


Reuben Moore, and moved the old cabin to the new one, joining 
them together. 12 

Why did Lincoln make this exchange of eighty acres with 
Reuben Moore? Both plots adjoined Johnston's forty acres. In 
an effort to discover whether or not the nature of the soil was 
a factor, the writer enlisted the aid of his colleague, Dr. Byron 
K. Barton, Head of the Geography Department of the Eastern 
Illinois State College. Dr. Barton made an examination of the 
soil on both plots, including numerous soil borings. His conclu- 
sions attest to Thomas Lincoln's good judgment as a farmer: 

A comparison of the land in these two tracts indicates that Thomas 
Lincoln not only was ambitious to obtain an estate but also desired a 
farm which would produce an adequate living for himself and his 
family. The 80 acres which he had obtained by public land entry was 
largely upland prairie land. Numerous swales are found which even 
with modern methods of land drainage are difficult to farm in "rainy" 
years. Thomas Lincoln undoubtedly found farming this wet prairie 
land a very trying task. 

Immediately to the south and west Reuben Moore owned 80 acres 
of land which was a well-drained forest soil and contained only three 
small areas of wet prairie. It is not inconceivable that Thomas Lincoln 
viewed this more rolling, well-drained and more easily worked land 
with an envious eye and when the opportunity presented itself traded 
with Moore for a farm which Lincoln considered more desirable. 

Developments of the past one hundred years on this farm land have 
altered the picture. The prairie soils through adequate farm manage- 
ment have been improved and their productive capacity increased 
while the rolling forest soil shows the ravages of erosion, but Thomas 
Lincoln, as many farmers of today, was considering the present and the 
immediate future and like his contemporaries could not see that agri- 
cultural techniques would some day make his decision appear errone- 
ous. 13 

As we have seen, it is probable that Abraham Lincoln was in 
Charleston sometime in the fall of 1840. This raises the ques- 
tion: could he have assisted his father and stepbrother in the 
construction of the second (or western) half of the Goosenest 

12 John J. Hall, grandson of Mrs. Thomas Lincoln, told Mrs. Eleanor Gridley 
in 1891 that "Grandpap and Uncle Abe and Uncle John D. Johnston just 
cleared away a little spot right over there," pointing to the cornfield a few 
rods to the east of the double cabin, "and purty soon they hed up a right 
smart house which is the east room of this yere cabin. It stood over there 
alone for a while, then grandpap and the boys built the west room and moved 
the other house over here and jined it on to the new part." Eleanor Gridley: 
The Story of Abraham Lincoln, p. 25. Cited hereafter as Gridley. Mrs. Grid- 
ley lived in the home of John J. Hall, adjoining the Lincoln farm, for over 
two weeks, collecting Lincoln stories from Hall and others in the neighbor- 
hood. She repeats Hall's statements without questioning their accuracy. Hall 
was almost certainly wrong in giving Abraham Lincoln a part in the building 
of the two parts of the cabin. 

"Report on soil examination of Si/ 2 , NE14, and NW14, SE14; NE14, SW14, 
Section 21, T. 11 N., R. 9 E. to the writer by Dr. Byron K. Barton, September 
28, 1949. 

Goosenest Prairie Homes of the Lincolns 41 

Prairie double cabin? We do not know the exact time of the 
year this second half of the Goosenest Prairie home was built. 
It probably was put up shortly after Thomas Lincoln's land 
exchange with Moore, or in the spring of 1840. If it was under 
construction in September or October 1840, at the time Abraham 
Lincoln visited Charleston during the campaign that fall, it is 
possible that Abraham may have assisted in its erection. It may 
be assumed that if Abraham was in Charleston for more than a 
day, he rode the seven miles to Goosenest Prairie to see his 
father and stepmother. If a house raising was in progress at 
that time (which is improbable) we can be sure that Abraham 
lent a hand. 14 

One tradition has it that Thomas Lincoln did not build the 
cabin on the land he acquired from Moore, but that it had been 
built by Moore prior to his deal with Lincoln. 15 If this account 
is correct, obviously Abraham Lincoln had no part in erecting 
a cabin on Reuben Moore's land. 

Thomas Lincoln completed the acquisition of the 120-acre 
Goosenest Prairie farm on December 31, 1840, when he paid his 
stepson Johnston $50 for Johnston's adjoining 40 acres. 16 This 
had been the cost of the land to Johnston. 

Thomas Lincoln had been planning these land deals — the 80- 
acre exchange with Moore, and the 40-acre purchase from John- 
ston — for more than a year before they were made. This is the 
logical explanation of the fact that on July 10, 1839, Joseph 
Fowler, Coles County surveyor, surveyed for Thomas Lincoln 
both the 80 acres Lincoln had bought from the government in 

14 John J. Hall told Mrs. Gridley that Abraham Lincoln insisted that an- 
other room be added to the original cabin. Mrs. Gridley reports, citing Hall 
as her authority, that "Abraham Lincoln upon the occasion of his visit at this 
time announced his intention 'of cutting entirely adrift from the old life,' 
and insisted that the 'new room' should be erected at once. He remained 
long enough to assist his father in building and completing the west room 
of the old log cabin, and also succeeded in putting his mother into more 
comfortable quarters." Gridley, p. 84. Hall's unreliability as a witness should 
be kept in mind. He was eleven years old in 1840. 

15 Statement to the writer by Mr. William T. Phipps of Pleasant Grove 
Township, March 19, 1950, who had heard this account from John J. Hall. 
One circumstance which casts doubt on this story is that Moore had secured 
the property only ten months before his exchange of land with Thomas 
Lincoln. Would he have "swapped even" for an adjoining 80 acres when a 
new cabin was located on his land, and there was none (so far as is known) 
on the 80 acres he received in exchange? 

16 Deed Records, vol. G, p. 6. Johnston signed and Mary Johnston made her 
mark. The land was the NEV4, SE14, Sect. 21, T. 11 N., R. 9 E. This became 
the "Abraham forty" when less than a year later the title passed to Abraham 
Lincoln, as is described later. 


January 1837, and the 40 acres Johnston had acquired in August 
1837. The survey showed that together they amounted to 121 
acres. 17 

William E. Barton, in The Lineage of Lincoln, expresses the 
opinion that the double cabin at Goosenest Prairie was erected 
shortly before Thomas Lincoln's death in January 1851, and 
consequently that both halves of the cabin were built at the same 
time, or about 1850. Barton visited Coles County in 1923 and 
1924 and interviewed old residents, who told him that Thomas 
Lincoln had lived in the double cabin he built for only two days 
and a night. Until the day before his death he lived in a round- 
log house on the same farm. This type of cabin was the first 
home of nearly all of the pioneers. Like other settlers, Thomas 
Lincoln wanted to live in a hewn-log house, but "not being an 
ambitious or excessively energetic man/' he did not hurry about 
it. When at last the hewn-log house of two rooms was completed, 
Thomas was a sick man. His stepdaughter Matilda (wife of 
Squire Hall) set up a loom in the newly completed cabin, but 
Thomas lay ill in his old cabin nearby. The day before he died 
Thomas insisted on being moved to his new house. He was 
carried there by his stepson John D. Johnston and a neighbor, 
Beniah Wright. Thomas "looked around him in content," see- 
ing the smooth walls he had made with his own hands, "and 
he was rested by the sight." The next day he was dead. 18 

The writer is unable to accept this account. Apart from the 
fact that there is no other account placing the erection of either 
of the two halves of the double cabin later than 1840, the follow- 
ing considerations make Barton's account improbable. 

(1) Round-log houses, or cabins, were not the first homes of 
the pioneer settlers of Coles County. Hewn logs were used, 
as is shown by all surviving log structures in the county seen by 
the writer. This is true even of those old log buildings which 
have declined to the status of corn-cribs or pig sties. 

(2) Thomas Lincoln had been ill for over a year and a half 
prior to his death in 1851. Barton's account has Thomas Lincoln 
a sick man "by the time it was finished," and the new house 
standing idle, except for a loom, until the day before his death. 
This is improbable. 

17 "Thomas Lincoln's Survey. 121 acres." Document signed by Joseph 
Fowler, C.S., July 10, 1839, in Illinois State Historical Library. From Barrett 
Collection. The land involved was NE14, SEi/4 and Si/ 2 , NE14, Sect. 21, T. 
11 N., R. 9 E. 

"Barton: The Lineage of Lincoln, p. 85. Cited hereafter as Barton, Line- 

(loosen est Prairie Homes of the Lincolns 43 

(3) Thomas Lincoln was a carpenter and cabinet-maker. Would 
a man with such interests and skills and with an energetic wife 
live in a log shanty for eleven years, with his neighbors living 
in well built hewn-log houses? 

(1) Thomas Lincoln's Macon County cabin (1830-1831) was a 
hewn-log house, as is shown by pictures of the cabin. 

(5) The differences in the construction of the two halves of 
the cabin, already noted, would hardly have existed if they were 
built at the same time. 

A local tradition which is similar to Barton's account of the 
erection of the double cabin, is that Thomas Lincoln continued 
to reside in the Johnston cabin of the "East 40" after 1840, and 
that the joining of the two cabins (from the "East 40" to that on 
the land acquired by Thomas Lincoln in 1840) did not take 
place until about a year and a half before Thomas Lincoln died, 
or in 1849. John J. Hall in telling this story to his neighbor, 
William T. Phipps, added that the joining of the two cabins was 
done only after it had been urged by Abraham Lincoln. 19 If 
this story is correct, Thomas Lincoln and his wife lived in the 
Johnston cabin, also occupied by the rapidly increasing Johnston 
family, from 1840 to 1849 while an empty cabin stood on his 
own land, the adjacent eighty acres. This is very unlikely. 

The double cabin or two-room log house which probably was 
completed in 1840 on the mid-forty of the 120 acre farm con- 
sisted of two structurally separate buildings united by a double 
fireplace and chimney. This arrangement had the advantage of 
placing the warm chimney in the center, thus aiding in heating 
the house. The gap between the two buildings, corresponding 
to the thickness of the chimney, was closed on each side by vertical 
planking. This left a passage-way on the south side of the chim- 
ney and a closet on the north side. Each cabin had its own loft, 
reached by a ladder leading to a trapdoor in the ceiling. 

As will be explained later, the "east forty" became the property 
of Abraham Lincoln on October 25, 1841. He retained title to 
this property until his death. 20 John J. Hall, son of Squire Hall 
and grandson of Mrs. Thomas Lincoln, cultivated the "Abraham 
forty" as a part of his [arm, he having purchased the adjoining 
"west eighty" from John D. Johnston in 1851. On May 7, 1888, 
Hall acquired title to the "Abraham forty" by filing an affidavit 

19 Statement to the writer by Mr. William T. Phipps, Pleasant Grove Town- 
ship, March 19, 1950. Mr. Phipps was born in 1873. Mr. Hall died in 1909. 

20 H. E. Pratt: "Administration of Estate of Abraham Lincoln," in Bulletin 
of the Abraham Lincoln Association, No. 45, December 1936, p. 7. 


stating that he had entered into possession of the land in 1851, 
"under claim of ownership/' and had held "the actual, open, 
continued, uninterrupted, unquestioned, undisturbed and peace- 
able possession" of the land since that date, and that he had 
paid regularly all taxes and assessments levied against the 
property. 21 

The history of the "west eighty" after 1840 is more involved. 
On March 13, 1842 (less than six months after Abraham Lincoln 
gave his father $200 and took title to the "Abraham forty"), 
Thomas Lincoln mortgaged the eastern 40 acres of his 80-acre 
property for $50.00 to the School Trustees of Town 11, Range 9. 
John D. Johnston was surety for Thomas Lincoln. 22 The records 
seen by the writer do not show when this mortgage was satisfied, 
as it certainly must have been before Thomas Lincoln's death in 
1851. Lacking any evidence to the contrary, we may assume 
that Thomas Lincoln owned his 80-acre farm free of encum- 
brance at the time of his death on January 17, 1851. 

His son Abraham Lincoln inherited these 80 acres, and sold 
it on August 12, 1851, to his stepbrother John D. Johnston for 
one dollar. 23 Johnston resold the property on November 27, 
1851, to his nephew John J. Hall for $250. 24 / 

Hall sold the site of the cabin and it's immediate surroundings, 
consisting of 36/100 of an acre located on the eastern half of the 
80 acres, to the "Abraham Lincoln Log Cabin Association" for 
$200 on August 15, 189 1. 25 The "Association" was not to get the 
cabin itself at a bargain rate, for on May 8, 1891, Hall had sold the 
cabin to James W. Craig of Mattoon for $1,000. 26 On January 
12, 1892, Craig resold the cabin to the "Association" for $10,000. 27 
Thus did the Thomas Lincoln cabin at Goosenest Prairie come 
into the hands of a group of Chicago promoters who removed 

21 Deed Records, vol. 73, p. 104. 

22 Deed Records, vol. G, p. 243. It was to be repaid at the rate of $12.50 
every six months. 

23 Deed Records, vol. O, p. 215. Original deed in Huntington Library, San 
Marino, California. Document no. HM 3101. Thomas Lincoln left no will to 
be probated. 

24 Deed Records, vol. Q, p. 122. Squire Hall, John J. Hall's father, had 
purchased 80 acres of public land in the same section in two 40-acre lots on 
January 5, 1837, and December 27, 1838. This land (SW14, SE\£; SE14, SW14, 
Sect. 21) joined the Thomas Lincoln farm on the south. Entries in Coles 
County Land Entry Book. 

25 Deed Records, vol. 83, p. 460. 

2(5 Deed Records, vol. 83, p. 293. Hall and his family lived in the cabin until 
1890, when they moved to the property adjoining the Lincoln farm on the 
north (Gridley, p. 21) where Clarence Hall, grandson of John J. Hall now 
lives (1953). 

27 Deed Records, vol. 84, p. 361. 

Goosenest Prairie Homes of the Lincolns 45 

the cabin from its original site and took it to Chicago for ex- 
hibition at the World's Fair of 1893. 

Colonel F. R. Southmayd of Chicago, a member of the "Asso- 
ciation," was later credited by one of the group with having origi- 
nated the scheme. 28 The members of this "Abraham Lincoln Log 
Cabin Association," most of them residents of Chicago, were: 
George M. Bogue, E. F. Getchell, Willard F. Block, Jason H. 
Shepard, William B. Pettit, F. R. Southmayd, John Barton Payne, 
Mrs. Norah [Eleanor] Gridley, and Nelson Stelle. It was Mrs. 
Gridley who persuaded John J. Hall to part with the property, 
according to a description of the Association and its activities 
which appeared in the Chicago Tribune in 1892. This account 
states that when Mrs. Gridley went to Coles County in June 1891 
and visited the cabin, she persuaded Hall to sell it. If this state- 
ment is correct there must have been some red faces in the 
Abraham Lincoln Log Cabin Association when it was discovered 
that Hall had sold the cabin to Craig the preceding May for 
$1000, and that Craig was holding it for a mere $10,000! It 
was the original intention of the Association, according to the 
Tribune account, to enclose the ground upon which the cabin 
stood with a neat fence, and to erect a monument to mark its 
location. The kitchen garden, which Sarah Bush Lincoln had 
tended in earlier years, also was to be preserved. 29 

Nothing came of this alleged project. On January 18, 1892, 
the Association sold the cabin site to M. E. Dunlap for $1,000. 30 

Thus the cabin and the site eventually sold for a total of 
$1 1,000, of which John J. Hall received only $1,200. In retrospect, 
the various transactions appear to form the pattern of a money- 
making promotional venture. As shown by the deed records, 
John J. Hall was bought out early in the game. James W. Craig 
cleared $9,000 on the deal, at the expense of the Chicago pro- 

28 Statement by George M. Bogue in Chicago Tribune. Photostat of clipping 
(no date, probably 1895 or 1896) in the possession of the writer. From 

Abraham Lincoln Association, Springfield. Courtesy of Dr. Roy P. Basler. 

29 Chicago Tribune, no date (1892) . Clipping in the possession of the 
writer. From Lincoln National Life Foundation, Fort Wayne, Indiana. 
Courtesy of Dr. Louis A. Warren. 

30 Deed Records, vol. 85, p. 10. Colonel M. E. Dunlap of Washington, D. C. 
appears to have been a collector of historic buildings and sites. He became 
the owner of the McLean House at Appommattox Court House, Virginia, 
where Lee surrendered to Grant (Washington Post, August 16, 1896) . As far 
as the writer knows Colonel Dunlap did not develop either the Lincoln cabin 
site or the McLean House. 


Many years later Mrs. Eleanor Gridley told ot her activities 
with the Abraham Lincoln Log Cabin Association. At the time 
of the interview with her (1937) Mrs. Gridley was ninety-one years 
old, and her memory played a lew tricks with her. Mrs. Gridley 

recalled that: 

A group of Chicago business men formed the Abraham Lincoln Log 

Cabin Association in 1891. They asked me to go down to Coles County, 

Illinois, and write a book about a cabin there that Abe Lincoln, at the 

age of 22, helped his father build. Well, I lived in the cabin for two 

months. I took notes, interviewed neighbors and worked on the book. 

Upon mv return to Chicago I suggested that the cabin be taken apart 

and set up in the Exposition building on the lake front. This was 

done. The cabin was visited by thousands. :!L 

The- Association took the cabin to Chicago in February 1892, 

and re-erected it lor exhibition at the Fair. A description of 

the cabin as it stood at Goosenest Prairie immediately before its 

removal appeared in the Charleston Plaindealer shortly after it 

was taken to Chicago: 

The cabin stood on a little rise of ground about fifty yards from the 
roadside facing the south ... it was old and battered. The winds and 
the rains of full fifty years had beaten upon it. The roofs that now 
cover it are not the original ones, these having been placed there with- 
in the last twenty years/" 
At Chicago the cabin was set up close to the Fair, but was not 
officially a part of it. ;}8 As Mrs. Gridley stated, the cabin was 
visited by thousands of people. After the Fair it was dismantled. 
At first it was proposed to place the cabin in a suitable permanent 
building, thus making it, in the w r ords of the Chicago Tribune, 
"one of the permanent attractions in Chicago." 84 This project 
was not carried out, and the cabin was stored in the yard of the 
Libby Prison War Museum on Wabash Avenue. 85 It remained 

31 Cliica^o Daily News, June 19, 1937. Mrs. Gridley was at the home of John 
J. Hall from June 19 to July 6, 1891. Gridley, pp. 21, 280. 

32 Clipping, Charleston Plaindealer, no date, probably in February 1892. 
Photostats of the original in files of Abraham Lincoln Association, Springfield, 
and in possession of the writer. 

33 A clipping from the Boston Advertiser, (no date) stated that "President 
Lincoln's Log-Cabin, on exhibition at the Chicago Fair ... is a quadrangular 
building about 16 by 16, as nearly as its measurement can be guessed. . . ." 
If this statement is correct it raises the question, "What happened to the 
other half of the double cabin?" The west half was 16 by 16, the east half 
was 16 by 18. Clipping in files of Lincoln National Life Foundation, Fort 
Wayne, Indiana. 

34 Clipping, Chicago Tribune, no date, (1893) in possession of the writer. 
83 Mrs. Eleanor Gridley, in a letter to Dr. Louis A. Warren, Fort Wayne, 

Indiana, October 2, 1936, wrote "Under my direction it was stored in the 
enclosure about the Libby Prison exhibit. . . ." In files of Lincoln National 
Life Foundation, Fort Wayne, Indiana. A Chicago dispatch to the St. Louis 
Globe-Democrat, dated February 24, 1894, stated that the cabin logs were 
piled in the alley between Michigan and Wabash Avenues, near 14th street, 
uncared for and unprotected. Clipping in files of Lincoln National Life 

Goosenest Prairie Homes of the Lincolns 47 

there for a few years, and about 1895 or 1896 the War Museum 
managers inserted a notice in the Chicago papers calling upon 
the owners of the cabin to remove it or it would be sold to pay 
charges or donated to some historical or other society. 80 About 
this same time there was a project on foot to bring the cabin to 
Washington, D. C. for permanent exhibition. The Washington 
Post for August 16, 1896, reported that "The Lincoln cabin is 
now in Chicago, but it is but the question of a short time before 
it will be brought on and erected in Washington." 37 

This project, with which M. E. Dunlap, owner of the cabin site 
in Coles County, was associated, was never carried out, and some 
time after the appearance of the items in the Tribune and the 
Post the cabin disappeared. There is some reason to think that 
it was used for firewood. 88 

Following the death of M. E. Dunlap the 36/100-acre cabin 
site became the property of Erskin S. Dunlap of Pennsylvania, 
who, on January 1, 1929, conveyed a quit-claim deed to the 
property to Mrs. Eleanor Gridley for one dollar "and other good 
and valuable considerations." 89 In a letter to Dr. Louis A. War- 
ren, dated October 2, 1936, Mrs. Gridley wrote that in September 
1929 she conveyed her interest in the cabin site to the State of 
Illinois, "without money or price." She mentioned that her part 
in securing the cabin site for the State of Illinois was not referred 
to at the dedication exercises of the Lincoln Log Cabin State 
Park on August 27, 1936. 40 A search of the Coles County deed 
records fails to disclose any record of the gift which Mrs. Gridley 
told Dr. Warren she made to the State. 

The eighty acres of the "Goosenest Prairie farm" (NE14, SW14 
and NW|4, SE 1 ^) and six acres from the western side of the 
"Abraham Forty" (NE 1 /!, SE 1 /^) were acquired by the State of 
Illinois in 1929 and 1930, as follows: With the death of John J. 
Hall in 1909 the three "forties" concerned went to his heirs. 
Squire Hall obtained 34 acres on the west side of NE 1 /*, SW 1 /^. 
On March 20, 1928, he sold it to Mr. Benjamin Weir, who was 
acting for the Charleston Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Weir, in 

30 Clipping, Chicago Tribune, no date. Photostat of the original in files of 
Abraham Lincoln Association, Springfield, and in the possession of the writer. 

37 Washington Post, August 16, 1896. Photostat of dated clipping in the 
possession of the writer. From Lincoln National Life Foundation. 

38 Lincoln Lore, No. 386, August 31, 1936; Thomas, Lincoln Cabin, p. 6, 
states that the fate of the cabin has never been determined. Mrs. Cridley, in 
her 1936 letter to Dr. Warren, wrote that the cabin logs were "never used as 
firewood, that is also an incorrect statement." 

39 Deed Records, vol. 172, p. 563. 

40 Letter in files of Lincoln National Life Foundation, Fort Wayne, Indiana. 


turn, acting for the Chamber, sold it to the State of Illinois on 
June 28, 1929. 41 

The remaining six acres of NE 1 /*, SW 1 /^, and twenty-eight 
acres on the west side of the NWV4, SE*4, went to Abraham 
Lincoln Hall, who sold this 34 acres to William T. Phipps. Fol- 
lowing its transfer to Emma W. Phipps the property was sold 
to the State on June 28, 1929. 42 Harriet Hall Martin obtained 
the remaining twelve acres of NWV4, SE 1 /^ (in which the cabin 
site is located) and the "Abraham Forty" (NEJ4, SEJ4). Fol- 
lowing her death her husband, John D. Martin, sold the twelve 
acres and the six acres on the west side of the Abraham Forty 
to the State on December 17, 1930. 43 The record of the con- 
veyance of the Martin property to the State does not include any 
reference to the cabin site which Mrs. Gridley obtained from 
E. S. Dunlap in January 1929. Seemingly, there was some ques- 
tion about the validity of the Dunlap title to the cabin site, for 
while M. E. Dunlap obtained a warranty deed from the Log 
Cabin Association in 1892, E. S. Dunlap gave only a quit-claim 
deed to Mrs. Gridley in 1929. 

Following the acquisition of the eighty-six acres by the State, 
the property became the "Lincoln Log Cabin State Park." A 
Civilian Conservation Corps was established at the Park and the 
camp enrollees erected a replica of the original cabin on the 
same site, constructed an "ash hopper" of the type used by 
pioneer households in making soap, provided a "root cellar" 
on the side of the hill near the east end of the cabin, and also 
built a pioneer type round-log barn, which has since been 
removed. Rail fences have been put up, adding to the authentic 
"backwoodsy" air of the park. The Park with the completed 
replica cabin was dedicated on August 27, 1936, at a ceremony 
presided over by Mr. Benjamin Weir of Charleston. Governor 
Henry Horner made the dedicatory address. 

The replica cabin was designed by the National Park Service, 
with the research work involved being done by Mr. Edward A. 
H. Ryan, later with the State Division of Architecture and 
Engineering at Springfield. Among those supervising the actual 
erection of the cabin was Mr. Arnold R. Kugler, later in charge 
of the Oak Ridge Cemetery at Springfield. 44 

41 Deed Records, vol. 203, p. 25, and statement to the writer by Mr. Weir, 
July 5, 1950. 

42 Deed Records, vol. 198, p. 94; vol. 203, p. 24. 
4< Deed Records, vol. 205, p. 271. 

44 Letter to the writer from Superintendent Ray Hubbs, Division of Parks 
and Memorials, Springfield, November 15, 1949. 

Goosenest Prairie Homes of the Lincolns 49 

The cabin conforms closely to the original, as shown by photo- 
graphs and as described in affidavits by those who remember 
it before its removal in 1892. The overall size of the double cabin 
is 16 by 38 feet. It is made of logs hewn flat on two sides and 
six inches thick. The "chinking" between the logs in the replica is 
concrete, instead of the less permanent "wattle and daub/' or 
clay and dry grass used in the original. The eastern cabin is 16 
by 18 feet and the western cabin is 16 feet square. The two struc- 
tures are four feet apart, with the chimney in between, and joined 
by vertical planking. The furnishing of the two rooms of the 
double cabin was undertaken by the two Coles County chapters 
of the Daughters of the American Revolution. The east cabin 
has been furnished as an open-hearth kitchen and dining room by 
the Sally Lincoln chapter of Charleston. The west cabin has 
been furnished as a bedroom by the Governor Edward Coles 
chapter of Mattoon. In both cases much care was exercised to 
secure articles of the period of Thomas Lincoln's occupancy. 
This patriotic project had been completed by the two chapters 
in 1940. 

The Memorial Highway goes to the park. An historical marker 
erected in 1934 states: 

"In 1837 Thomas Lincoln erected a cabin on a tract of land 
situated one-half mile to the east. Here he resided until his 
death in 1851. Abraham Lincoln visited here frequently, and 
after 1841 held title to forty acres of land on which his parents 
lived. The State of Illinois now owns most of the Lincoln farm." 

Abraham Lincoln s Coles County Family 

ALTHOUGH ABRAHAM LINCOLN'S career had removed 
him completely from the interests and the environment of his 
Coles County relatives, he remained concerned with their welfare. 
As Jesse W. Weik has pointed out, it would be incorrect "to leave 
the impression that Lincoln was selfish and indifferent to the 
wants of his family. He never sought to evade the obligation to 
care for his father and stepmother. . . /' Nicolay and Hay, in their 
ten-volume life of Lincoln, state that "Abraham never lost sight 
of his parents. He continued to aid and befriend them in every 
way, even when he could ill afford it, and when his benefactions 
were imprudently used. He . . . comforted their declining years 
with every aid his affection could suggest. . . ."* 

Thomas Lincoln was sober, honest, friendly, peaceful and de- 
vout. He was not ambitious. His education was meager. Abraham 
wrote of his father that he 'grew up litterally [sic] without educa- 
tion. He never did more in the way of writing than to bunglingly 
sign his own name/' His widow told William H. Herndon in 1865 
that "Mr. Lincoln could read a little, and could scarcely write 
his name." 2 No letters or other documents in his handwriting, 
other than his signature on a few legal documents, have been 
preserved for the period of his life spent in Coles County, prob- 
ably for the simple reason that none ever existed. A neighbor, 
George B. Balch, of Lerna, Coles County, has recorded that: 

Thomas Lincoln was a large, bulky man, six feet tall and weighing 
about two hundred pounds. He was large-boned, coarse-featured, had 
a large blunt nose, florid complexion, light sandy hair and whiskers. 
He was slow in speech and slow in gait. His whole appearance denoted 
a man of small intellect and less ambition. It is generally supposed 
that he was a farmer; and such he was, if one who tilled so little land 

1 Jesse W. Weik: The Real Lincoln, a Portrait, p. 50. Cited hereafter as 
Weik; Nicolay and Hay, Vol. I. pp. 74-75. 

2 Collected Works, Vol. IV, p. 61. In Abraham Lincoln's autobiographical 
sketch, written on June 1, 1860. Herndon-Weik photostats, Nos. 335-342. In- 
terview with Mrs. Sarah Lincoln, Sept. 8, 1865. Benjamin P. Thomas is of 
the opinion that Thomas Lincoln never learned to read. Thomas, Lincoln, 
p. 6. 


Abraham Lincoln's Coles County Family 


.■■v. .,- 


Mrs. Sarah Bush Johnston Lincoln, 
Stepmother of Abraham Lincoln. 

Photograph taken about 1864 at Charles- 
ton, Illinois. Mrs. Lincoln was about 
seventy-six years of age. (From Meserve 
and Sandburg: The Photographs of 
Abraham Lincoln. Used by permission of 
Dr. Frederick Hill Meserve.) 


by such primitive modes could be so called. He never planted more 
than a few acres, and instead of gathering and hauling his crop in a 
wagon he usually carried it in baskets or large trays. He was unedu- 
cated, illiterate, content with living from hand to mouth. 
Balch stated that Thomas Lincoln was called "Uncle Tommy" 
by his friends, which speaks well for his disposition. 3 A more 
charitable description is that by Dennis Hanks. Thomas Lincoln, 
according to Hanks, was a "good, clean, social, truthful and 
honest man . . . who took the world easy — did not possess much 
energy." Augustus H. Chapman of Charleston, who married 
Dennis Hanks' daughter Harriet, told Herndon in like vein that 
Thomas Lincoln was "remarkable peaceable . . . and good 
natured." 4 

William E. Barton made a careful study of the appearance and 
character of Thomas Lincoln, which he recorded in two books 
on the Lincoln family The Paternity of Abraham Lincoln, pub- 
lished in 1920, and The Lineage of Lincoln, published in 1929, 
the year before his death. Barton stated that Thomas Lincoln was 
about five feet, nine inches in height, muscular and compactly 
built, with a slight stoop. He weighed about 185 pounds. He 
had deep gray eyes, a well rounded face, smoothly shaven. His 
hair was black and coarse, and he wore it out round on a level 
with the bottom of his ears. As for his character and personality, 
Barton described him as slow of thought and movement; jovial, 
inoffensive, and quiet, but capable of strong anger — "a dangerous 
man when angry/' He was neither a drunkard nor a gambler, 
nor is he known to have had any vicious habit. In his early book, 
Barton described Thomas Lincoln as naturally indolent and lack- 
ing in ambition, and as disinclined to constant hard labor, al- 
though capable of it when he chose. He was content with simple 
things, and preferred to get along with few conveniences rather 
than to exert himself to obtain the things he did not greatly 
need. "With sufficient hoecake and bacon he was reasonably 
content." Thomas Lincoln was a religious person. In Kentucky, 
Indiana, and Illinois he had been a Baptist, but near the close 
of his life he became a "New Light." 

Barton modified his appraisal of Thomas Lincoln in his last 
book, written in 1929. He then wrote that, although Thomas 

3 Quoted in Francis F. Browne: The Every-Day Life of Abraham Lincoln, 
pp. 21-22. Cited hereafter as Browne. Mr. Balch was born in Tennessee on 
November 1, 1828, and hence was 22 years old at the time of the death of 
Thomas Lincoln. Mr. Balch died in 1886. There is no authenticated picture 
of Thomas Lincoln. 

4 Herndon-Weik photostats, Nos. 140-141, 301-324. Hanks' letter to Herndon 
was dated June 13, 1865. Chapman's statement was dated Sept. 8, 1865. 

Abraham Lincoln's Coles County Family 53 

Lincoln "was not educated or learned or ambitious" nor "bril- 
liant or of extraordinary ability," he did have "good sense, sound 
judgment, a kind heart and moderate ability." He "was reliable 
and worthy of respect." Barton noted that Thomas Lincoln paid 
his taxes regularly, and left no unpaid debts behind him when 
he left Kentucky, Indiana, and Macon County, Illinois. He was 
"a good neighbor, a good father, a good husband." But despite 
this kinder estimate, Barton continued to describe Thomas 
Lincoln as "thriftless, improvident, and quite lacking in qualities 
that appeal to the imagination." 5 

The writer disagrees with Barton's statement that Thomas 
Lincoln was thriftless and improvident, as well as the earlier 
opinion that he was naturally indolent and disinclined to con- 
stant hard labor. 

Benjamin P. Thomas, in his biography of Lincoln, refers to 
"steady retrogression" marking Thomas Lincoln's later years. 
"Whatever energy and ambition Thomas displayed in early man- 
hood soon abated, and eventually he seems even to have forgotten 
how to write his name," Thomas concludes. 6 The writer is 
unable to accept this estimate. The record of Thomas Lincoln's 
land transactions in Coles County, 1834-1840, previously des- 
cribed, hardly bears out this conclusion. Thomas was fifty-six 
years old in 1834, well past "early manhood." A number of docu- 
ments signed by Thomas Lincoln during this period have been 
preserved, as we have seen. 

During his residence in Coles County Thomas Lincoln's oc- 
cupation was primarily that of a farmer, but there are local tra- 
ditions that he engaged in other occupations as well, especially 
when farming operations slackened off. 

David Dryden lived a mile north of the Lincoln farm. Family 
tradition describes Thomas Lincoln as helping Dryden in his 
blacksmith shop during the winter months, and in addition doing 
carpentry and cabinet work in Dryden's shop. Lincoln also is 
supposed to have helped Dryden in the erection of a building. 7 
Thomas Lincoln had been a carpenter and cabinet maker as well 

5 Barton: The Paternity of Abraham Lincoln, p. 265. Cited hereafter as 
Barton, Paternity. Barton, Lineage, pp. 83, 86. 

6 Thomas, Lincoln, p. 6. 

7 Statement to the writer by Mr. Andrew B. Allison of Charleston, Septem- 
ber 19, 1949. Mr. Allison, who died in 1952, age 88, was a grandson of David 
Dryden. Mr. Allison told the writer that his mother, Mrs. Andrew H. Allison, 
knew Thomas Lincoln, and said of him "A harder working man than Tom 
Lincoln never lived, but he was a poor manager." Mrs. Allison lived from 
1822 to 1923. She came to Coles County from Tennessee with her family in 


as a farmer in Kentucky and Indiana. This gives us some grounds 
for accepting the family tradition. 

As we have seen, there is reason to believe that in 1835-1836, 
and possibly for a longer period, Thomas Lincoln was a partner 
in the operation of a saw and grist mill. The mill venture was 
not a success, and resulted in a successful suit against the part- 
ners in 1836 for the unpaid balance of their lease agreement. 8 
Why did the venture fail? The 1835 lease provided that not to 
exceed fifty dollars of the rental on the mill might be paid by 
repairs to the mill. The record shows that fifty of the eighty-five 
dollars paid on the lease represented repairs to the mill. Thomas 
Lincoln was a carpenter, and hence was the partner most likely 
to have done this work. If the other four partners had each paid 
in cash an amount equal to Thomas Lincoln's contribution in 
repair work, the rental ($220. 1 2 V^) would have been paid with- 
out difficulty. Of the other partners, John D. Johnston we know 
was indolent, and so probably was Dennis Hanks. About Squire 
Hall's habits of industry we know little, and the fifth partner, 
William Moffett, is an unknown figure, except that we do know 
that he managed to evade the law suit, although named as a 
defendant in the original bill of complaint. The writer is inclined 
to believe that the failure of the mill venture resulted from 
Thomas Lincoln finding himself burdened with loafers for part- 
ners, and unable to carry the whole burden himself. 

One reason why Thomas Lincoln made relatively little finan- 
cial progress was that he was held back by his association with 
his stepson, John D. Johnston. Thomas Lincoln was a defendant 
in five law suits, four of which he lost. In four of the five cases 
and possibly in all five, John D. Johnston w T as involved. It is 
clear from Abraham Lincoln's correspondence with Johnston, 
to be quoted in the next chapter, that Johnston was a man given 
to projects which failed to turn out as expected, due primarily 
to his poor judgment and indolence. Thomas Lincoln stood by 
his stepson loyally in his legal difficulties, even though he was 
left "holding the sack" for John. 

After an examination of the Coles County property records 
for the period of Thomas Lincoln's residence in the county, the 
writer concludes that Thomas Lincoln was a more "substantial" 
citizen than most writers make him out to be. He was certainly 
no landless "squatter." From the time of his first land purchase 

s This case, Jones and Norton vs. Thomas Lincoln et al, has been described 
in the chapter on the Muddy Point residence. 

Abraham Lincoln's Coles County Family 


in 1834 to his death in 1851 he was the owner of real estate in 
Coles County. The following table summarizes his real estate 
transactions, as already described in detail: 




Total Acreage 

in Thomas 

Lincoln's possession 

March 14, 





November 25, 





January 14, 





May 3, 
December 27, 







March 5, 
December 31, 





October 25, 





These land transactions were neither speculative nor highly 
profitable. He was attempting to secure an estate for his old age, 
and in this he succeeded. At the time of his death and for the 
eleven years preceding, he owned the land upon which he lived. 

Louis E. Warren has incorporated the results of an intensive 
examination of Thomas Lincoln's thirty-four years of Kentucky 
residence in his Lincoln's Parentage and Childhood. Warren con- 
cludes that Thomas was not "the worthless vagabond" of tradi- 
tion. During his residence in Kentucky, Thomas Lincoln "has 
not one black mark against his good name." 9 The same may be 
said for the twenty years Thomas Lincoln lived in Coles County. 

The writer is inclined to agree with an estimate of Thomas 

Lincoln made by Sarah Bush Lincoln's granddaughter, Mrs. 

Sarah Jane Dowling, in 1889. Then sixty-seven years old, she 

told Eleanor Atkinson that Thomas Lincoln: 

. . . made a good living, and I reckon he would have got something 
ahead if he hadn't been so generous. He had the old Virginia notion 
of hospitality — liked to see people sit up at the table and eat hearty, 
and there were always plenty of his relations and grandmother's willing 
to live on him. Uncle Abe got his honesty, and his clean notions of 
living and his kind heart from his father. Maybe the Hanks family 
was smarter, but some of them couldn't hold a candle to Grandfather 
Lincoln, when it came to morals. I've heard Grandmother Lincoln 
say, many a time, that he was kind and loving, and always paid his 
way, and never turned a dog from his door. 10 

Although Thomas Lincoln served on numerous juries while 

a Kentucky resident, a search of the Coles County Circuit Court 

records fails to show that he served on any jury of that court. 

During the period 1835-1850, John D. Johnston served on two 

9 Pp. 122-123. Published in 1926. 

10 Atkinson, pp. 44-45. Mrs. Dowling died on March 20, 1907, age 84 years. 
Charleston Daily Courier, March 23, 1907. 


juries (October 1835 and October 1836) and Dennis Hanks served 
on nine (four in September 1840 and five in May 1844.) 11 

Did Thomas Lincoln sympathize with his son's desire for an 
education? According to Leonard Swett, Abraham Lincoln told 
him that his father "determined at an early day" that Abraham 
should be well educated. "We had an old dog-eared arithmetic 
in our house, and father determined that somehow, or somehow 
else, I should cipher clear through that book." 12 In like vein, 
Mrs. Sarah Lincoln told Herndon in 1865 that her husband, feel- 
ing the lack of education, encouraged Abraham to learn in every 
way possible. "As a usual thing," Mrs. Lincoln stated, "Mr. 
Lincoln never made Abe quit reading to do anything if he could 
avoid it. He would do it himself first." 13 

With this testimony from the son and the widow, the contrary 
notion that Thomas Lincoln did not sympathize with Abraham's 
interest in "book-larnhV " can hardly be accepted. Henry C. 
Whitney is responsible for an account of a visit to Thomas 
Lincoln in Coles County by William G. Greene, who had clerked 
with Abraham in Denton Offut's store at New Salem. Abraham 
had asked Greene to deliver a letter to his father, as Greene would 
pass near Thomas Lincoln's home on a trip to Kentucky. Thomas 
is quoted as speaking disparagingly of Abraham's interest in ob- 
taining an education. Whitney, giving Greene as the source of 
his information, described Thomas Lincoln's cordial welcome to 
the friend of his son, and quoted Thomas as telling Greene: 

'I suppose that Abe is still fooling hisself with eddication. I tried to 
stop it, but he has got that fool idea in his head, and it can't be got 
out. Now I hain't got no eddication, but I get along far better than 
ef I had. Take bookkeepin' — why, I'm the best bookkeeper in the 
world! Look up at that rafter thar. Thar's three straight lines made 
with a firebrand; ef I sell a peck of meal I draw a black line across, and 
when they pay, I take the dishcloth and jest rub it out; and that thar's 
a heap better'n yer eddication,' etc. (In point of fact, a part of his 
business was to superintend a small neighborhood mill.) u 

The reference to Thomas Lincoln's milling activities puts the 

date of this visit about 1835. In assessing the accuracy of this story 

it should be noted that Whitney did not come to Illinois until 

"Circuit Court Records, vol. I, pp. 46, 80, 310, 311, 313, 314; vol. II, pp. 2, 
4, 16, 23. Volume One starts with 1835. Thomas Lincoln may have had jury 
service between 1831 and 1835, or he may have served on juries in justice of 
the peace courts, the records of which have not been preserved. Thomas 
Lincoln was sixty years old in 1838 and therefore unlikely to be called for 
jury service after that date. 

12 A. T. Rice: Reminiscences of Abraham Lincoln, p. 458. 

13 Statement of Sept. 8, 1865. Herndon-Weik photostats, Nos. 335-342. 

14 Henry C. Whitney: Life of Lincoln, vol. I, pp. 74-75. Cited hereafter as 
Whitney, Life. 

Abraham Lincoln's Coles County Family 57 

1854, or nineteen years after this incident and three years after 
Thomas Lincoln's death. Thus Whitney did not get the story 
from Greene until about twenty years after Greene had visited 
at the Thomas Lincoln home. A direct quotation of Thomas 
Lincoln's words under those circumstances is manifestly absurd. 
Furthermore it should be noted that Whitney gives a very un- 
favorable picture of Thomas Lincoln elsewhere in his biography 
of Lincoln. He uses such phrases as "no incentive to exertion," 
"his squalor," and "the dim surroundings of his rude abode." 

In his later years Thomas Lincoln was not given to travel. 
Although his son Abraham was living in Springfield, hardly more 
than a hundred miles away, during the last fourteen years of his 
life, Thomas never visited his son there, nor, so far as is known, 
did he ever get to Springfild. Neither Thomas nor any other 
member of Abraham's Coles County connections were present at 
his marriage to Mary Todd in Springfield on November 4, 1842. 
It is not known whether they were invited. John J. Hall told Mrs. 
Gridley in 1891 that the family did not know that Abraham was 
married until he told them on his first visit to Coles County 
after the wedding. Mrs. Abraham Lincoln never visited her 
father-in-law's home. 15 

Thomas Lincoln and his family are listed in the 1840 and 1850 
census returns for Coles County. The 1840 return gave only 
the name of the head of each household. The Thomas Lincoln 
family is given as one male between 60 and 70 years of age, and 
one female between 50 and 60. John D. Johnston's family (the 
name is spelled "Johnson"), is given as two males less than five 
years of age, one male between 30 and 40, one female less than 
five, and one female between 30 and 40. Squire Hall's family is 
listed as four males (less than 5, between 10 and 15, between 20 
and 30, between 30 and 40) and three females (less than 5, be- 
tween 5 and 10, between 20 and 30). 

The 1850 census returns were by precincts, and the name, age, 
and state of birth of each person listed were given. Thomas 
"Lincon" is listed as a resident of Muddy Precinct, age 72, a 
farmer, possessing real estate worth $100, and a native of Virginia. 
Sarah, his wife, is listed as age 62 and a native of Kentucky. The 
family of John D. Johnston ("Johnson") is given as himself (age 
40, a farmer and a native of Kentucky) and his six children: 
Thomas, age 13; Abraham, 12; Mary June, 10 (the family Bible 
record gives her name as Marietta); Esquire, 9 (Squire); Rich- 

15 Weik, p. 50; Gridley, pp. 116-117. 


ard, 7, and Dennis, 5. Mary Barker Johnston, John's wife and the 
mother of the six surviving children, died on September 21, 1850. 
The Squire Hall family is not listed in the 1850 return for Muddy 
Precinct. 16 

Sarah Bush Johnston Lincoln, Thomas's second wife and Abra- 
ham's stepmother, was a more positive personality than her hus- 
band. She was energetic and sensible, "a good housekeeper, pru- 
dent and systematic, and with a passion for cleanliness." 17 Her 
granddaughter Harriet Hanks Chapman described her to Hern- 
don on December 17, 1865, as "a very tall woman, straight as an 
Indian, of fair complexion, and was, when I first remember her, 
very handsome, sprightly, talkative, and proud. She wore her 
hair curled till gray; is kindhearted and very charitable, and also 
very industrious." 18 Living at a time and in a region where "book 
larnin' " for women was held to be of little account, she never 
learned to read and write. But what she lacked in education 
she made up in spirit. 10 

Both Mrs. Lincoln and Abraham testified to the affectionate 
and understanding nature of their relationship with each other. 
Abraham Lincoln in later years told A. H. Chapman of the en- 
couragement he had always received from her, and declared 
that "she had been his best friend in this world and that no son 
could love a mother more than he loved her." Mrs. Lincoln, on 
her part, declared that "Abe was a good boy, and I can say what 

16 Microfilm of U.S. Census Returns in Illinois State Archives. 1840 Coles 
County, p. 201; 1850 Coles County, p. 81B. 

17 Beveridge, vol. I, p. 59. 

1S Herndon-Weik photostats, Nos. 458-459. It will be remembered that 
Harriet, the daughter of Dennis and Sarah Elizabeth Hanks, was a member of 
the original party of 1830, as a child of four. The accompanying picture of 
Mrs. Lincoln also appears in Stefan Lorant: Lincoln, His Life in Photographs, 
p. 15. Concerning this picture Mr. Lorant wrote to the author on August 26, 
1950: "I do not know who took the Sarah Bush photograph — I only know 
that the picture was cherished by the Lincoln family and was loaned to 
authors to illustrate early books on Lincoln." Dennis Hanks Dowling, in an 
affidavit dated July 10, 1929, stated that a photograph of Mrs. Lincoln was 
taken in Charleston in 1864 by her grandson Thomas L. D. Johnston. Illinois 
State Historical Library. Folder "Affidavits, etc. Coles County." On Oct. 25, 
1865 Mrs. Harriet Hanks Chapman, in a letter to Herndon concerning Thomas 
and Sarah Lincoln, referred to "one of her photographs taken about one year 
ago." On Jan. 6, 1867, Mrs. Chapman wrote to Herndon enclosing "two 
pictures of Grandma Lincoln. ... I am sorry that I could not have a better 
one for your friend as these do not do the original justice. But we have no 
hope of ever getting a better one as Grandma is getting very feeble." Herndon- 
Weik photostats, Nos. 459, 1363. 

19 Illiteracy was common among the women of her circle. The deed records 
show that the first Mrs. John D. Johnston (Mary Barker Johnston) and Mrs. 
Reuben Moore (Mrs. Lincoln's daughter Matilda) , as well as Mrs. Lincoln, 
"made their marks" to legal papers. 

Abraham Lincoln's Coles County Family 59 

scarcely one woman, a mother can say in a thousand . . . Abe 
never gave me a cross word or look and never refused in fact, or 
even in appearance, to do anything I requested him. I never gave 
him a cross word in all my life. . . . His mind and mine, what 
little I had seemed to run together — move in the same channel." 20 

Despite the differences in their characters, Abraham was very 
fond of his stepbrother, John Davis Johnston. Henry C. Whitney 
has recorded that Lincoln once told him that he loved Johnston 
as if he had been his own brother. 21 Improvidence and indolence 
were Johnston's most unfortunate traits. Dennis Hanks wrote of 
Johnston that "a kinder harted man never was in Coles County 
111 nor an honester man. I dont say this because he was my 
brother in law. I say it noing it. John did not love to work any 
of the best. I plaged him for not working." 22 

Ward Hill Lamon has described Johnston as a man who "had 
no positive vice, except idleness, and no special virtue but good 
temper. He was not a fortunate man; never made money, was 
always needy, and always clamoring for the aid of his friends." 
Abraham Lincoln, Lamon observed, "all through John's life, 
had much trouble to keep him on his legs, and succeeded in- 
differently in all his attempts." 23 The accuracy of this observation 

20 Chapman's letter to Herndon, Oct. 8, 1865; Mrs. Lincoln's statement to 
Herndon, Sept. 8, 1865. Herndon-Weik photostats, Nos. 335-342, 422. 

21 Whitney, Life, vol. I, p. 37. The conversation took place in 1856. 

22 Letter to Herndon, January 26, 1866. Herndon-Weik photostats, No. 521. 
There is reason to believe that Johnston was a heavy drinker. An account 
book of whiskey sales kept by Michael Hufman shows that from March 8 to 
July 2, 1851, Johnston purchased ten gallons of whiskey. This would be at 
the rate of nearly two and a half quarts a week. In Illinois State Historical 
Library. From Barrett Collection. 

23 Lamon, p. 46. Johnston was a little over a year younger than Abraham 
Lincoln. There is reason to believe that some time after his father's death 
in January 1851, Abraham Lincoln visited his stepmother at Goosenest Prairie, 
and at that time made entries in the family Bible. The Lincoln Kinsman, 
No. 31, January 1941, p. 6. The latest entry in his hand is dated March 5, 
1851. Lincoln may have visited Goosenest Prairie on May 17 and 18, 1851. 
A facsimile of the page with the entries in Lincoln's hand is given in Sand- 
burg, Collector, p. 108. This page was removed, after Abraham Lincoln's 
death, by Dennis Hanks. After passing through the hands of Jesse Weik, the 
page reached the Barrett Collection. Sandburg, p. 106. A copy of the page had 
been made by John J. Hall before it was removed from the Bible. A. A. 
Graham made a copy of Hall's copy in 1879, and sent it to the Chicago 
Historical Society. Letter, Graham to A. D. Hagar, secretary, C.H.S., March 
3, 1879. In Manuscript Division, Chicago Historical Society, Autograph 
Letters, vol. 24, pp. 219-220. John J. Hall told Mrs. Gridley in 1891 that 
"Uncle Dennis took it [the missing page] long enough to have it copied and 
never returned it, fur he sold it to a relic hunter and got a right smart price 
fur it." Gridley, p. 110. See Collected Works, vol. II, pp. 94-95. 


will be apparent as we read the correspondence between John and 

John Cunningham of Mattoon, who was born in 1828, and 

hence was about twenty-three years old when John D. Johnston 

left Coles County for Arkansas in 1852, many years later wrote 

of Johnston: 

He was the Beau Brummel of Goosenest Prairie, and would sport the 
best clothes to be had, regardless of whether they were ever paid for 
or not . . . the term shiftless fitted him in respect of his having no 
particular occupation. He was always prepared to make a pleasing 
address, and was smart for a young man of those days, but without 
other education than that acquired by contact with others. Some per- 
sons thought him a blighter man than the immortal Lincoln. Had 
Johnston lived in this age, he would have filled the niche of the dude 
to perfection. 24 

The Lincoln-Hanks-Hall-Johnston connections were compli- 
cated by intermarriage. The complication arises from the fact 
that Dennis Hanks and Squire Hall, half-brothers (and nephews 
of Abraham Lincoln's grandmother, Lucy Hanks) married sis- 
ters, the daughters of Abraham's stepmother. John J. Hall, who 
acquired the Thomas Lincoln Goosenest Prairie farm, was (1) 
the grandson of Abraham Lincoln's great-aunt Nancy, and (2) the 
son of Abraham Lincoln's stepsister Matilda Johnston Hall. John 
J. Hall's grandson, Clarence Hall, now (1954) living on the Hall 
farm adjoining the Lincoln Log Cabin State Park, is, therefore, 
the great-great-grandson of Abraham Lincoln's great-aunt Nancy; 
or to put the relationship in a more direct line, the great-great- 
great-grandson of Abraham Lincoln's great-grandfather, Joseph 
Hanks. 25 

24 Clipping in Barrett Collection, printed in Sandburg, Collector, p. 88. 
Johnston served as a constable from June 1834 to March 1842, Coles County 
Commissioners Court Record, vol. I, p. 96, vol. II, p. 217. 

25 Nancy A. Hall (1869-1949), daughter of John J. Hall, married John 
Thomas of Janesville, Illinois, on June 17, 1891, (Coles County Marriage 
Records, vol. II, p. 58) . Their son Clarence was born in 1892. The birth was 
not recorded in the county records. Nancy was married a total of three times. 
Following her divorce from John Thomas, Mrs. Thomas resumed her maiden 
name of Hall, which she also applied to her son Clarence. Her other mar- 
riages (both ending in divorce) , were to James Higgenbotham of Diona, 
Illinois (Marriage Records, vol. II, p. 161, June 17, 1895) and to Albert 
Moore. After each divorce she resumed her maiden name. Statement to the 
writer by Mr. William T. Phipps, Pleasant Grove Township, March 19, 1950. 
Nancy Hall died in Charleston on November 12, 1949 (Charleston Daily 
Courier, November 14, 1949) . The most complete study of the family rela- 
tionships involving Abraham Lincoln is Barton, Lineage. See genealogical 
tables following the introduction. 

Lincoln! s Concern for 
His Coles County Relatives 

THOMAS LINCOLN appears to have been in financial dif- 
ficulties in the fall of 1841. This is the logical explanation of 
the action of his son Abraham on October 25, 1841, in paying 
him $200 for the "east forty" of the 120-acre farm. 1 This was the 
land Thomas Lincoln had purchased from John D. Johnston on 
December 31, 1840, for fifty dollars and on which both families 
had lived from 1837 to 1840. 

That Abraham's action was really a gift is indicated by the 
fact that the agreement allowed Thomas and Sarah Lincoln to 
retain "use and entire control" of the property "during both and 
each of their natural lives." 2 Lincoln did not think of this forty- 
acre transaction as making him the actual owner of a farm. On 
March 27, 1842, in a letter to his friend Joshua F. Speed, Lincoln 
wrote: "I have no farm, nor ever expect to have, . . ." 3 Nor did 
he acquire the property with the hope of reselling it at a profit 
after the deaths of Thomas and Sarah, for at the time of the 
purchase he agreed to sell the land to his stepbrother Johnston 
for $200, the price he paid his father, within one year after the 
deaths of Thomas and Sarah, without interest except "after the 
death of the survivor as aforesaid." 4 

Dennis Hanks told Herndon in 1865 about the $200 trans- 
action. He confused the 1834 mortgage of the "Plummer place" 
with the 1841 "sale" to Abraham. According to Hanks, Abraham 

1 NEV4, SE14, Sect. 21, T. 11 N., R. 9 E. Deed Records, vol. G, p. 5. The 
"west eighty," it will be recalled, was acquired by Thomas Lincoln on March 
5, 1840, from Reuben Moore by an even exchange. This did not increase his 
financial indebtedness. 

2 Collected Works, vol. I, p. 262. 

3 Collected Works, vol. I, p. 282 

4 Collected Works, vol. I, p. 263. Bond dated Charleston, October 25, 1841. 
Recorded in Coles County Mortgage Records, vol. I, p. 43, December 3, 1851. 
Cited hereafter as Mortgage Records. Certified copy made on August 29, 1866, 
in Herndon-Weik photostats, Nos. 560-562. 



paid a debt of $200, contracted in 1834, and in return Thomas 
conveyed the farm to him, reserving a life interest for himself and 
wife. Hanks correctly described Abraham's agreement with John- 
ston. 5 

It would appear that Lincoln took this means of helping his 
father and stepmother, letting them have $200 and at the same 
time preserving 40 acres of the farm that could not be sold or 
mortgaged at a later date. The reservation of a life interest 
insured that Thomas and Sarah would have the use of the land 
as long as they each should live. Thomas signed the indenture 
and Sarah Lincoln made her mark. 

The artist, F. B. Carpenter, in his "Six Months at the White 
House with Abraham Lincoln," relates an incident which, if 
authentic, shows that Lincoln was thinking of purchasing land 
for his stepmother's use about the time of the $200 transaction 
in 1841. As given by Carpenter, Lincoln said to a legal friend 
after receiving a fee of $500 in a legal case 6 soon after he "en- 
tered upon the practice of his profession at Springfield" (which 
was in 1837): "If it was only seven hundred and fifty, I would go 
directly and purchase a quarter section of land, and settle it 
upon my old step-mother." His friend offered to lend him the 
$250 extra, and suggested that the property be for her use, to 
revert to Lincoln upon her death. Lincoln replied: "I shall do 
no such thing. It is a poor return, at the best, for all the good 
woman's devotion and fidelity to me, and there is not going to 
be any half-way business about it." 7 Nothing came of this plan, 
if indeed it ever existed, which the writer doubts. 

The financial relief from the sale to Abraham did not end 
Thomas Lincoln's money troubles. Within three months 
Thomas Lincoln and John D. Johnston were defendants in a 

5 Hanks' statement to Herndon, Sept. 8, 1865. Herndon-Weik photostats, 
Nos. 329-330. Lamon, p. 75, followed the Dennis Hanks account when he 
wrote that Thomas had mortgaged the 40 acres purchased from Johnston to 
the school commissioner for $200 and that Abraham paid the debt and took 
title to the land. There was no mortgage involved in the 1841 transaction 
between Thomas Lincoln and his son. Lamon, like Hanks, confused the 1834 
and 1841 transactions. A. H. Chapman, similarly, told Herndon on Sept. 8, 
1865, that Thomas Lincoln bought 40 acres, but that Abraham had to advance 
$200 to pay for it and to prevent his father from losing it. Herndon-Weik 
photostats, No. 324. 

On April 6, 1841, Lincoln's client in Kellogg vs. Grain , at Tremont, Illinois, 
secured a judgment of $16,000. This was the largest judgment obtained by 
Lincoln up to that time. Pratt, 1840-1846, p. 68. This could account for the 
$500 fee. 

T F. B. Carpenter: Six Months at the White House with Abraham Lincoln, 
pp. 237-238. Cited hereafter as Carpenter. 

Lincoln's Concern for His Relatives 63 

suit brought against them in the court of Justice of the Peace 
F. W. Trower by J. R. Mount and James Alexander, for the use 
of F. Patterson. A judgment of $17.17 and costs of $2.30 were 
found against them. The judgment was to bear interest from 
January 29, 1841. A writ of execution was issued by Justice 
Trower on January 24, 1842. It was served the next day by 
Constable J. Wells, who reported that no property was found 
and therefore no levy had been made. 8 What had happened, 
probably, was that Thomas Lincoln had "gone on Johnston's 
note," and, Johnston failing to pay, Thomas had become with 
him a codefendant when suit was brought to collect. 

This unpaid judgment is a likely explanation of the fact that 
on March 13, 1842, less than two months after the writ of 
execution was issued, Thomas Lincoln mortgaged the eastern 
half of his remaining 80 acres (NWJ4, SE^, Sect. 21, T. 11 N., 
R. 9 E.) to the School Trustees of that township for $50. John 
D. Johnston appears as surety. The debt was to be repaid in two 
years, at the rate of $12.50 every six months. 9 

Did Abraham Lincoln assist his father in paying this mort- 
gage? According to John J. Hall, after Thomas had borrowed 
from the school funds, "Uncle Abe use to come down every six 
months and pay off the interest. . . . He done that until he 
had money enough to pay the hull debt, and kept up the in- 
terest, tu." 10 

The sequence of events from October 1841, to March 1842, 
suggests that Thomas Lincoln's financial affairs were in a state 
of confusion at this time. On October 28, 1841, he received $200 
from his son Abraham. In January 1842, he failed to pay a 
judgment against him and his stepson Johnston for less than 
twenty dollars. On March 13, 1842, Thomas Lincoln mortgaged 
his remaining acres for $50. Why were Thomas' affairs in such 
a mess? The answer probably was in the financial irresponsi- 

8 Writ of execution owned by Mr. C. B. Mitchell of Charleston, Illinois. 
Mr. Mitchell reports that this document was found in the court house yard 
when the Coles County Courthouse was being rebuilt in 1898. The writer 
has seen no other document relating to this suit. 

9 Deed Records, vol. G, p. 243. The records do not show when the mortgage 
was paid off. Mortgage instrument, drawn by Justice of the Peace David 
Dryden, March 14, 1842, in Barrett Collection. Described in Sales Catalogue 
(1952) p. 37. 

10 Gridley, p. 38. There is a family tradition that on one occasion Abraham 
Lincoln accompanied his father when the latter paid to Joseph Allison, School 
Township Treasurer, the interest due on the loan. Statement to the writer 
by Andrew B. Allison, grandson of Joseph Allison, September 19, 1949. An 
unpaid portion of this debt may have been the reason for Thomas Lincoln 
asking his son for $20 in December 1848. See below, p. 73. 


bilities of his stepson, John D. Johnston. The writer has seen 
no suit involving Johnston during this period other than the 
one mentioned. But this does not mean that none existed. The 
Justice of the Peace records are incomplete, due in part to the 
fact that the records were disturbed when the courthouse was 
reconstructed in 1898. The Mount and Alexander document, 
as has been noted, was picked up at that time on the courthouse 
lawn. Many others may have been lost. 

Abraham Lincoln continued to regard the "Abraham forty" 
as property for the benefit of his stepmother after his father's 
death, for on November 4, 1851, he wrote to Johnston, from 
Shelbyville, "The Eastern forty acres I intend to keep for Mother 
while she lives — if you will not cultivate it; it will rent for enough 
to support her — at least it will rent for something." 11 

The land never left Lincoln's possession. The death of 
Johnston, prior to 1861, 12 and that of Lincoln in 1865 resulted 
in the 1841 agreement being ignored. Legally, the heirs of 
Johnston could have secured the "Abraham forty" from the 
heirs of Lincoln by paying $200 following the death of Sarah 
Lincoln in 1869. This was not done, and as we have noted, John 
J. Hall came into legal possession in 1888. However, Thomas 
L. D. Johnston, one of the sons of John D. Johnston, asserted 
a claim to the property in 1868, before the death of Mrs. Thomas 
Lincoln. Young Johnston was in jail in Springfield, lacking 
$600 bail, when he wrote on May 22, 1868, to his cousin John J. 
Hall, who was using the property. He offered to transfer his 
claim to Hall if Hall would go on his bond. On August 31, 1866, 
for $500 Thomas Johnston had obtained from his brothers a 
quit claim deed to their interest in the property as the heirs of 
John D. Johnston. 13 Actually, what Thomas Johnston's claim 
amounted to at best was a right to purchase the land for $200 
from the Lincoln heirs following the death of Mrs. Thomas 

11 Collected Works, vol. II, p. 111. 

12 ". . . John D. Johnston who had died a short time previous. . . ." From 
A. H. Chapman's account of conversation with Abraham Lincoln, January, 
1861. Herndon-Weik photostats, No. 422. 

13 Text of the letter in Sandburg, Collector, p. 100. Quit claim, Dennis F. 
Johnston, Squire H. Johnston and Richard M. Johnston to Thomas L. D. 
Johnston, signed August 31, 1866, Vigo County, Indiana; recorded, December 
24, 1867, Coles County, Illinois. Thomas L. D. Johnston is described as a 
resident of Cumberland County, Illinois, at this time. The names of the 
parties are spelled "Johnson" instead of Johnston. Deed Records, vol. 21, p. 
102. Hall's low opinion of Tom Johnston was stated to Mrs. Gridley in 1891. 
Hall stated that he supported Johnston for the last two years of his life. 
Gridley, pp. 22-23. 

Lincoln's Concern for His Relatives 65 

As far as the writer knows, Hall made no effort to acquire 
Thomas Johnston's claim to the "Abraham forty," perhaps for 
the reason that he already possessed an assignment of the orig- 
inal claim of John D. Johnston. After the death of Abraham 
Lincoln, Dennis Hanks sent to William H. Herndon a copy in 
his handwriting of Lincoln's bond to John D. Johnston of October 
25, 1841, with the following assignment, also in Hanks' hand, 
added after Lincoln's name: "for Value Received I assigned 
[assign] the within title Bond to John J. Hall for the Sum of 
fifty [dollars] to me paid in hand, the Rest [receipt] of which 
is herby Acknowlede. J. D. Johnston." 14 

Abraham was in Coles County at the time of his purchase of 
the forty acres for $200 from his father, for the bond to John- 
ston, made at the time of the sale, is dated Charleston, October 
25, 1841, and is signed by Abraham Lincoln. That Lincoln had 
intended coming to Charleston about this time is shown by a 
letter to Miss Mary Speed of Louisville, Kentucky (he had re- 
cently returned to Springfield from a visit to Kentucky), written 
on September 27, 1841, telling her that if she cared to write to 
him, she should address the letter to Charleston, "as I shall be 
there about the time to receive it." 15 As we shall see, Lincoln 
had cases in the May 1841 and May 1842 terms of the Coles 
County circuit court. Probably he also had cases in the October 
1841 term which have not come to the attention of the writer. 16 

The significance of this transaction in 1841, apart from show- 
ing Abraham's interest in the welfare of his father and step- 
mother, is that it is evidence that he was getting established 
financially. He had been living and practicing law in Spring- 
field for four and a half years. On November 4, 1842, a year 
after this assistance to his father, Lincoln married Mary Todd. 

It may be significant that the $200 which Abraham virtually 
gave to his father in 1841 is the largest single cash gift from him 
to his Coles County family of which we have any record. It is 
likely that after his marriage in 1842 the demands of a growing 
family precluded any additional cash assistance of a major 

14 Herndon-Weik Collection, Library of Congress, Group II. Johnston's 
assignment to Hall is not included in the Lincoln bond document recorded on 
December 3, 1851, Mortgage Records, vol. I, p. 43. Hall made no reference 
to this assignment from John D. Johnston when he filed an affidavit to acquire 
title to the property in 1888. 

15 Collected Works, vol. I, p. 261. 

10 Such Circuit Court Records at Charleston as give the names of counsel 
in cases for the period before the Civil War are incomplete. The "Judge's 
Dockets" are missing for most of the period covered by this study. 


nature to his relatives. Even in the 1850's, when his legal prac- 
tice was most lucrative, we have no record of his having given 
any substantial cash aid to his relatives. On August 12, 1851, 
he gave Johnston the 80 acres of the Goosenest Prairie farm he 
had inherited from his father, for the nominal consideration of 
one dollar, subject to Sarah Lincoln's dower right. 17 This gift 
involved no cash outlay on Lincoln's part. 

The recorded instances of Lincoln assisting his father finan- 
cially during the period 1841-1847, following the $200 "Abraham 
Forty" land deal of 1841, were when he shared with Thomas his 
income from his Coles County legal practice. In May 1845 he 
assigned a $35 legal fee to his father, and he also turned over to 
Thomas, to collect for his own use, four notes signed by clients 
in payment of fees for cases he conducted before leaving Illinois 
to take his seat in Congress in December 1847. These four notes 
are mentioned in a letter from Thomas to his son on December 
7, 1848, quoted later in this chapter. The amounts involved are 
not stated. 

It is probable that Lincoln gave his father small cash gifts on 
a number of occasions during the years 1841-1847. This Was 
when he was most frequently in Charleston, attending the May 
and October terms of the Coles County Circuit Court with a 
frequency approaching regularity. Help given to his father or 
other relatives on these occasions would not have involved cor- 
respondence or other written records. The 1879 history of Coles 
County describes Lincoln's practice when he visited Charleston 
during this period. ". . . he never failed to visit his father in 
Pleasant Grove, and, it is said, always purchased as many pres- 
ents (generally of a substantial character) as he could stow in 
his buggy, and conveyed them to the family, who were in in- 
digent circumstances." 18 

We may picture Abraham in a hired two-horse buggy 19 mak- 
ing the seven mile drive to Goosenest Prairie, the floor at his 
feet piled with groceries — a sack of flour, a bag of sugar, a bag 
of coffee beans, and probably a twist of tobacco for Thomas and 
a few bags of rock candy for the Johnston children, who with 
their parents lived with Thomas and Sarah. It will not stretch 
the imagination to include a bolt of cloth for his stepmother, 
and even a bright shawl or a warm "comforter" for the old lady. 

17 Deed Records, Book O, p. 215; Thomas, Lincoln Cabin, p. 5. 

18 LeBaron, p. 286. 

19 The road from Charleston to Goosenest Prairie was (and is) hilly and 
involved fording Kickapoo and Indian creeks, both now bridged. 

Lincoln's Concern for His Relatives 67 

"Land sakes, Abe," she would say with pretended dismay, "why 
did you bring me such fol-der-ols? Does that high-toned lady in 
Springfield know how you throw your money away on your old 
mother?" "Don't you fret, Mama," 20 he would reply, "the com- 
forter was Mary's idea." 

One incident on a trip by Lincoln from Charleston to his 
father's home was recalled over half a century later by Mrs. 
Amanda Hanks Poorman, daughter of Dennis Hanks. After 
describing Lincoln's visits to her father's house when in Charles- 
ton to attend court, Mrs. Poorman recalled that: 

Sometimes Uncle Abe would take our horses and wagon and drive 
over to his father's place. When he did this he took some of the chil- 
dren with him. ... I remember one trip I made when Uncle Abe 
stopped the horse in Kickapoo Creek to give it a drink. I stood up in 
the rear of the rig, and Uncle Abe gave the horse a little cut and 
started out of the creek with a rush. I plunged out into the water at 
the first jump, and in a moment I was . . . floating and sinking and 
choking with water as I tried to scream. I shall never forget how 
Uncle Abe jumped from the buggy [sic] and came back after me. He 
ran with such great, long strides, and came plunging into the creek 
with his long arms reaching out toward me. The water which was so 
deep to me was easy wading for Uncle Abe, and he came to me as 
fast as he could run, his long legs making him remind me of some 
great wading bird. He fished me out hurriedly and called that 
"Mandy's ducking." . . . He was very generous with us, and was also 
to his father and stepmother, giving them $10 or $15 every time we 
went down there with him. 21 

Peter Furry, a neighbor of Thomas Lincoln, told Mrs. Gridley 

in 1891 that when Abraham Lincoln came to see his folks at 

Goosenest Prairie that he always walked from Charleston, in 

order to save the cost of hiring a "rig," because he wanted to 

give his father "some money to pay off the debt on the old home 

and a little besides" so that both Thomas and Sarah would feel 

a little independent. Furry also said that on nearly every visit 

Abraham would give his folks ten dollars. Once, Furry recalled, 

"I see him give 'em two hundred dollars." 22 

20 Beveridge, vol. I, p. 66, states that Lincoln always called his stepmother 
"mama," He referred to her as "mother" in his letters to his stepbrother 
John D. Johnston. 

21 In St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 26, 1901. In Joseph Wallace scrapboolc, 
pp. 508-512, in Horner Library, Illinois State Historical Library. Article by 
Mrs. Amanda Hanks Pooman, age 68. The incident probably took place 
during the period 1841-1845, when Amanda was 8 to 12 years old. 

22 Gridley, pp. 139-140. Lincoln may have walked the seven miles from 
Charleston to his father's place on a few occasions, although the writer doubts 
it. The $200 gift reported by Furry may have been the 1841 land deal. This 
would have been fifty years before the conversation with Mrs. Gridley. Note 
that both Mrs. Poorman and Mr. Furry refer to cash gifts on the occasion of 
Abraham's visits. • 


Many details, probably imaginative, of Lincoln's visits to his 
father's house were given to Mrs. Gridley by John J. Hall in 
1891. She was looking for colorful and intimate personal de- 
tails about Lincoln, and Hall obviously gave his imagination 
free rein. He told of Lincoln sleeping in the loft of the cabin 
on his earlier visits. After he became a lawyer he was promoted 
to a "bunk" in the west half of the double cabin. Hall claimed 
to remember Abraham making shingles for the cabin, tanning 
hides for buckskin britches, going barefoot (even after he was 
forty years old), and taking part in a "taffy pull" in 1833 when 
actually he was in New Salem. 23 

A reference to a visit to his father's home in Coles County was 
made by Lincoln on March 10, 1860, to Rev. J. P. Gulliver of 
Norwich, Connecticut, according to the latter. They were on 
the train together going from Norwich to Bridgeport. Lincoln 
told Gulliver that while "a lawyer's clerk in Springfield," he 
found that he did not understand the meaning of the word 
"demonstrate," and that such an understanding was essential if 
he ever was to be a success as a lawyer. "I left my situation in 
Springfield," Lincoln told Gulliver, "and stayed there until I 
could give any proposition in the six books of Euclid at sight. 
I then found out what 'demonstrate' means, and went back to 
my law studies." 24 If true, this incident would have taken place 
after Lincoln's removal to Springfield in April 1837. He never 
was a "lawyer's clerk" in Springfield. He was admitted to the 
bar on March 1, 1837. This account by Gulliver can not be 
accepted as evidence of a visit to Coles County in or about the 
year 1837. There is no other evidence of such a visit by Lincoln 
between December 1837 and the fall of 1840. 

The road Lincoln followed to Goosenest Prairie is today 
(with minor variations) a part of the Memorial Highway. As 
the original road left Charleston it crossed what is now the 
campus of the Eastern Illinois State College, probably passing 
over the location of the western end of the Main Building. 

Lincoln's help for his relatives included providing a chance 
for some schooling in Springfield for a daughter of Dennis 
Hanks, as soon as the Lincolns had some extra room. They 
moved into their Eighth and Jackson streets house in May 1844. 
It is likely that Lincoln brought Harriet Hanks to Springfield 

23 Gridley, pp. 23, 26, 106, 136. 

24 New York Independent, September 1, 1864, quoted in Carpenter, p. 314. 

Lincoln's Concern for His Relatives 69 

from her father's home in Charleston 25 following his presence 
in Charleston to attend court in October 1844. Harriet was 
about eighteen years old. Jesse W. Weik, who met Harriet in 
later years, records that after the adjournment of court Lincoln 
and Harriet rode to Springfield in a buggy drawn by "Belle," a 
bay mare. The trip took parts of two days. 26 

Mrs. Lincoln, who had both a kind heart and a sense of duty, 
may have suggested this arrangement. Her first son, Robert, 
had been born on August 1, 1843. Lamon quotes Harriet as 
referring to Lincoln "correcting" his child. 27 If Robert was old 
enough to "correct" at the time of Harriet's visit, he must have 
been at least one year old. The October 1844 date fits. If Har- 
riet remained in Springfield for a year and a half, as Weik has 
recorded, 28 it is likely that she returned to Charleston with 
Lincoln in May 1846, when he attended court there. This was 
about two months after the birth of the second Lincoln child, 
Edward, on March 10. Thus it is reasonable to suppose that 
Harriet remained with Mrs. Lincoln through her confinement. 
In any event, Harriet was in Charleston in 1847, where she 
married Augustus H. Chapman on September 9 of that year. 29 

How did Mary Lincoln and Harriet Hanks get along? Hern- 
don, who was prejudiced against Mrs. Lincoln, and who from 
first hand observation actually knew very little of the home life 
of the Lincolns, stated in 1885, after Mrs. Lincoln's death, that 
Mrs. Lincoln tried to make a servant out of Harriet, and that 
this caused a fuss between Lincoln and his wife. 30 Probably 

25 Dennis Hanks lived in Charleston as early as 1834, when he built a house 
on what is now Jackson street, west of Fourth street. He lived there for about 
ten years. Hanks also purchased two lots on May 10, 1837, at what is now 
Fourth and Monroe streets. Deed Records, vol. C, p. 161. Jackson street was 
known as Lafayette, and Monroe street was known as Washington. 

26 Weik, p. 53. 

27 Ruth P. Randall: Mary Lincoln, p. 134. Cited hereafter as Randall, Mary 
Lincoln. Lamon, p. 472. 

28 Weik, p. 53. 

29 Coles County Marriage Records. Chapman was born at Paoli, Indiana, on 
August 4, 1822. He died in Charleston on September 4, 1898. Dates from 
gravestone in "Old Cemetery," Charleston. Where did Augustus and Harriet 
Chapman live in Charleston? Local tradition places the Chapman home, 
where Lincoln was a guest on a number of occasions and where he spent his 
last night in Charleston (January 31, 1861), on the north side of what is 
now Jackson street, between Fourth and Fifth streets. Chapman did not own 
property at this location. From August 16, 1852, to March 14, 1857, Chapman 
owned two lots at the southeast corner of Eighth and Monroe streets. He 
purchased them for $700 and sold them for $800. Deed Records, vol. P, pp. 
284-285; vol. W, p. 611. The Deed Records show no other property owner- 
ship in Charleston by Chapman prior to the Civil War. 

30 Quoted in Beveridge, vol. I, p. 509n. 


there was some lack of mutual appreciation, at least at first, 
between Mrs. Lincoln, the daughter of an aristocratic and cul- 
tured family, and the daughter of that tangy son of the back- 
woods, Dennis Hanks. But this difference in background did 
not deter Mrs. Lincoln from inviting Harriet in the first place, 
and in permitting her to stay for over a year. It is likely that 
they got along well on the whole. Mr. Lincoln was away "on 
circuit" for much of the time Harriet lived at Springfield. With 
a small child as the only third person present, the situation 
would have been intolerable if they had not been well disposed 
toward each other. In 1866 Harriet wrote to Herndon describ- 
ing her stay in Springfield. She referred to Mrs. Lincoln's sense 
of economy, and also her fondness for putting on "style," but 
she made no reference to mistreatment or to any conflict be- 
tween them. 31 That the Springfield visit, with its accompanying 
"schooling," was of benefit to Harriet is shown by her letters, 
much better written than those of her father, her uncle John D. 
Johnston, or her cousin John J. Hall. The principal object of 
Harriet's stay in Springfield was her own education, and any 
assistance she gave Mrs. Lincoln in her household tasks was 
incidental, although doubtless very welcome. If May 1846 is 
the time of her return to Charleston, as seems likely, then Har- 
riet showed her appreciation by staying on at a time when her 
help would be most needed, the period immediately before and 
after the birth of Edward. Herndon's account of their relation- 
ship is badly distorted. 

Did another daughter of Dennis Hanks live with the Lincolns 
in Springfield? In 1891 Mrs. Eleanor Gridley was told by a 
Mrs. Tom "Darling," a daughter of Dennis, that she lived with 
the Lincolns for a year to help with the children. Mrs. "Darling" 
is described as "Cousin Sarah," a cousin of Lincoln. 32 Mrs. 
Gridley got her notes mixed up. She must have been talking 
to Mrs. Chapman. Obviously, Mrs. Tom "Darling" was actually 
Sarah Jane Hanks (1822-1907) who married Thomas S. Dowling 
in 1839, or four years before the birth of the first Lincoln child. 
She had at least one child of her own older than Robert Lincoln. 

In 1851 Lincoln's stepbrother John D. Johnston proposed 
that his son Abraham L. B. Johnston (1838-1861) go to Spring- 
field to live with the Lincolns. The suggestion was made when 
Lincoln was in Charleston to attend the October 1851 term of 

L Randall, Mary Lincoln, pp. 134-135. 
J Gridley, pp. 135, 204. 

Lincoln s Concern for His Relatives 71 

court. Lincoln told his stepbrother that he would think it 
over, and on November 9, writing from Shelbyville, he told 
Johnston: "As to Abram, I do not want him on my own account; 
but I understand he wants to live with me so that he can go 
to school, and get a fair start in the world, which I very much 
wish him to have. When I reach home, if I can make it con- 
venient to take him, I will take him, provided there is no 
mistake between us as to the object and terms of my taking 
him/' 33 

This letter makes it clear that Abraham Johnston's older 
brother Thomas was mistaken when he told Herndon in 1865 
that Lincoln "took a fancy" to Abraham and proposed that the 
boy come to Springfield to live with the Lincolns and go to school, 
but that Mrs. Lincoln "objected so bitterly her husband was 
obliged to write to my brother and tell him the plan could not 
be carried out because of domestic opposition." The idea origi- 
nated with John D. Johnston. Instead of rejecting the proposal 
outright, Lincoln appears to have been guilty of a very common 
husbandly failing: he "passed the buck" to his wife! Thomas 
Johnston went on to say that Lincoln offered to give young 
Abraham the money to pay for the books and the schooling he 
received in Charleston. 34 

If Mrs. Lincoln objected to the Abraham Johnston proposal, 
as she very well might have done, she can hardly be blamed. The 
Lincolns had two boys at this time Robert, age eight and William, 
age eleven months. Mary had her hands full without worrying 
about a thirteen year old boy about whom she knew little (except 
that his father was an impecunious loafer), and whose influence 
on her eight year old son would need watching. Abraham John- 
ston's later record justifies her decision. In April 1859 he was 
indicted by the Coles County grand jury for gambling. 

Presumably the case came up in the October 1859 term, but the 
volume of the circuit court record which includes that term has 
been lost. 35 Did Lincoln defend young Abraham in this case? 
Probably not. 

Thomas Johnston, Abraham's brother and a cripple, also was 
a wayward young man. Abraham Lincoln helped him out of 
tangles with the law on at least two occasions. One incident was 

33 Collected Works, vol. II, p. 112. 

34 Weik, pp. 50-51. Abraham Johnston died in 1861 at the age of twenty-two. 

35 Indictment and appearance bond for $100, signed by Johnston, A. H. 
Chapman and A. C. Poorman (the two latter sons-in-law of Dennis Hanks) , 
in lower vault of the Circuit Clerk's office, box "1859." 


described by Henry C. Whitney, Urbana lawyer and friend of 
Lincoln. In the summer of 1856 Tom Johnston stole a watch 
from an old man named Green at Champaign, Illinois. Tom was 
arrested and lodged in jail at adjoining Urbana after a hearing 
before Justice of the Peace Whitney, the father of Henry C. 
Whitney. Tom asked that his trial be delayed until his uncle, 
Abraham Lincoln, could come to defend him. Soon after this 
Lincoln and Whitney were at Urbana for a political meeting. 
Lincoln told Whitney that there was a boy in the local jail 
whom he wanted to see, explaining that it was the son of his 
stepbrother John D. Johnston of whom he was very fond. The 
boy also was under a charge of stealing at Charleston, Lincoln 
said, and added that he would help young Johnston out of these 
two scrapes, but no more. "After that if he wants to continue 
his thieving I shall do nothing more for him." Lincoln visited 
Tom at the jail, and promised to help him. The interview made 
Lincoln very sad; "in fact I never saw him more so," Whitney 
recalled. When the case came to trial, the prosecutor agreed to 
drop the charge if the Greens would agree not to press the case. 
Lincoln and Whitney visited the Greens, who agreed to come to 
court and express their willingness that the boy be released. 
This they did, and Tom went free. 36 Ward Lamon tells the same 
story and adds that before Lincoln left town he gave young Tom 
Johnston some money and some earnest advice. 37 

A theft charge against young Johnston in Charleston, probably 
the one to which Lincoln referred, was settled on May 18, 1857, 
by Thomas Johnston pleading guilty to petit larceny and drawing 
a fine of one dollar and costs and a sentence of one hour in jail. 
Lincoln did not defend Johnston in court, for he was in Spring- 
field on May 18, 1857. He may have arranged for the payment 
of the fine and costs. 38 

30 Weik, pp. 52-53. This story in similar form also appears in Whitney: Life 
on the Circuit with Lincoln, pp. 419-421. Cited hereafter as Whitney, Circuit. 

37 Lamon, p. 326. John J. Hall told Mrs. Gridley in 1891 that Tom Johnston 
was a thief, and that he stole many articles from the Lincoln cabin when Hall 
was living there. Gridley, p. 22. ' 

38 Circuit Court Record, vol. Ill, p. 271, 302; Angle, 1854-1861, p. 177. The 
charge against Johnston was stealing five knives and five handkerchiefs from 
a store kept by Hiram and Daniel Tremble, on June 13 or 14, 1856. Eight 
of the missing articles were recovered from the house of Charles Sawyer, Sr. 
Johnston was indicted by the grand jury for petit larcency on October 10, 
1856. John J. Hall was a witness in his behalf. Documents in the case are in 
the lower vault of the Circuit Clerk's office. The name is spelled "Johnson" 
throughout. The accused signed his name "T. L. D. Johnson" in a semi- 
literate hand. There are no documents in Lincoln's hand. The Coles County 
Circuit Court Judge's Docket, 1855-1858, p. 40, has an entry on the case, but 
the name of the defending attorney is omitted. 

Lincoln's Concern for His Relatives 73 

While Lincoln was in Washington in December 1848 as a 
member of Congress, both his father and his stepbrother ap- 
pealed to him for assistance. Thomas Lincoln wrote to Abraham 
on December 7, 1848, that he was in danger of losing his land 
by a forced sale, and asked his son for a twenty dollar loan. The 
letter was in the handwriting of John D. Johnston, who added a 
request of his own for eighty dollars. Thomas Lincoln's letter 
was as follows: 

Coles County 111 Deer 7th 1848 
Dear Son 

I will in form you I and the old womman is in the best of health at 
this time and soe is all of the relations at present. I belive I injoy as 
good health at this time as I have for many years past and I hope these 
few Lines will find you enjoying the same state of health, I was gratly 
in hopes that you would have come a past heer on your way to Wash- 
ington as I wished to see you, but as you faild to come a past, I am 
compeled to make a request by Letter to you for the Lone of, Twenty 
Dollars, which sum I am compeled to razes, or my Land will be sold 
I have beged time Till I could wright to you to send me that a mount 
of money by Letter Send it to me if you can, for neither I nor Johnston 
can razes it for we have nothing that will bring money, I doe expect 
you will think Strang at this request, for that much money & it was 
eaquely as strange to me & John when I was cold on for it not long 
sence for it was an old Transcript of a bout Eigh years standing, that 
we thought was paid Long a goe & still think so, but we have Lost the 
recpt if we ever had won, & all, the Plantif & officers denies it ever 
being paid so we have it to pay again and I now you cant apreciate 
the reluctance that I have made this request of you for money but I 
am compled to doe so & I hope you will grant it, & excuse me for soe 
doing and I am in hopes I will be able to make you requempence for 
all of your favours, I sopous it would be of sattisfaction to you now 
how I have disposed of them notes you gave me, the one on James 
Gill I got the money for & the one Robert Mattison I tried to sell it 
for 15 $ in cash and coudent doe it So James M Miller offerd John 
Twenty Dollars in goods at his Trade prices & Monroe advised him to 
take it, so he sold it to him with out recourse on any body & the two 
small notes we ar likely not to do much with, but I am glad that I 
have lived to see anuther Whig Presadent alected & hope live to see 
monarcha or Locofoco principals crmble to dust be of good cheer four 
you ar on a good caus and I think old Zak will make all things right, 
we have razed this summor as much as fifty bushels of corne to the 
acor & our wheat was very good, your Father in haste 

Thos Lincoln 39 

Abraham Lincoln replied to his father, from Washington, on 
December 24, 1848, as follows: 

My dear Father: Your letter of the 7th was received night before 
last. I very cheerfully send you the twenty dollars, which you say is 
necessary to save your land from sale. It is singular that you should 
have forgotten a judgment against you; and it is more singular that 
the plaintiff should have let you forget it so long, particularly as I 
suppose you always had property enough to satisfy a judgment of that 
amount. Before you pay it, it would be well to be sure you have not 

39 Photostat of original letter, from Huntington Library, San Marino, Cali- 


paid it; or, at least, that you cannot prove that you have not paid it. 
Give my love to Mother, and all the connections. Affectionately your 

A. Lincoln. 40 

Thomas Lincoln's difficulty arising "from an old transcript of 
about eight years standing" probably came from a debt con- 
tracted nearly seven years before. As we have seen, in March 1842 
Thomas Lincoln mortgaged his farm for fifty dollars. The debt 
was to have been paid in two years, but the repayment is not 
recorded in the Deed Records. 

Another possible source of Thomas Lincoln's difficulty was a 
judgment for $13. 12^ and costs secured against him and one 
Martin L. Ashmore by Lucinda Montgomery before Justice of 
the Peace Thomas Jeffries on January 11, 1845. This judgment 
was less than four years old, however, in December 1848, and 
action concerning it had been taken as recently as January 1846. 
Thomas Lincoln's reference to "a bout eigh years" would seem 
to rule this out as the reason for his request to his son Abraham. 
The basis of the Montgomery judgment was a note dated March 
27, 1844 and signed by Lincoln, Johnston, and Ashmore for 
$ 1 3 . 1 2 V2 and due in nine months. Johnston could not be found 
when the writ for the hearing was served on January 6, 1845, 
therefore judgment was entered against Lincoln and Ashmore 
only. The judgment remaining unpaid, a writ of execution was 
issued on March 19, 1845, and the constable levied on "one 
speckled cow and one pided [pied?] heifer 2 years old & 2 red 
heifers each one year old." When offered for sale on April 12, 
1845, the propery remained unsold for want of bidders. Addi- 
tional writs of execution were issued on April 15 and on No- 
vember 11, 1845, but the judgment remained unpaid. On serving 
the November writ on January 18, 1846, the constable reported 
"no property found." By this time the costs had amounted to 
$5.43, making a total of $18.55 owed by Lincoln and Ashmore. 41 

After penning Thomas Lincoln's letter to his son, John D. 
Johnston added one of his own, using the same page as that for 
the last part of Thomas' letter. Johnston wrote to his stepbrother 
as follows: 

A. Lincoln 

Dear Brother, I & famly is well but I am Down in Spirits becous I 
owe somthing like 70 or 80 Dollars in small dribes [dribbles?] & I have 
kept from paing them by not having any property & have maid no new 

40 Collected Works, vol. II, p. 15. 

41 Transcript of this case from the records of the justice of the peace filed 
with Circuit Clerk on May 18, 1848. In file box, "Old J. P. Transcripts" in 
lower vault, Circuit Clerk's office. 

Lincoln's Concern for His Relatives 75 

contracts but traid all together on Fathers property & I am dund & 
doged to Death so I am all most tired of Living, & I would all most 
swop my place in Heaven for that much money I know you will think 
little of this for you never had the Tryal, but Abe, I would Drother 
Live on bread & wotter than to have men allways duning me for just 
[?] contrcts & if you can send me 80 Dollars I am willing to pay you 
any Intrust you will ask, & to make you safe Father will make you a 
Deed for all of his Land when you come in the spring my reason for 
makcn this propositi is becous you dont wont us to sell out & I cant 
pay my debts without, so if you will send us a hundred Dollars you 
Shall have a Deed for all of the Land and if I cant razs the money 
for you at Fathers Death or before I am & Shall be willing to give you 
up Possesion of all of the Land & improvements with out charge for 
any improvement maid on said Land by me or my ares [heirs], and 
I will comencc daring & Improveing righ off and be contented to goe 
to work with soiri hart, and not be a fraid of the officer Taken the 
bread and meat out of my childrens mothes, I have faith that I can 
razs you that much money in Three years when the Time would come 
that I could razse a calf & pig of my owen for Tom & Abe can now Doc 
nearly as much work in a Crop as a man, I candadly would drother 
never own a foot of Land than to not pay my Debts, nor lave any to 
my children Indad I would drother give possession now than to live 
hur and have men a watching [?] me, to see if I hadent something 
the Law would take, to set a man wonst behind hand in this country & 
no other way to make a living only by his Laber, it will take him his 
Life Time to git out fc pay the cost if he has a large family 
Wright soon & Let us no & send me some of all the Dockments you 
must excuse this painful letter your Brother A. Lincoln 

J. D. Johnston 

Abraham's reply to Johnston was commenced on the bottom of 
the same page of his reply to his father. He proceeded to give his 
stepbrother some good advice and a very generous offer, if John- 
ston would go to work and prove that he was worth helping. 
Lincoln wrote: 

Dear Johnston: Your request for eighty dollars, I do not think it 
best, to comply with now. At various times when I have helped you a 
little, you have said to me "We can get along very well now" but in a 
very short time I (ind you in the same difficulty again. Now this can 
only happen by some defect in your conduct. What that defect is, 1 
think I know. You are not lazy, and still you are an idler. I doubt 
whether since I saw you, you have done a good whole day's work in 
any one day. You do not very much dislike to work, and still you do 
not work much, merely because it does not seem to you that you could 
get much for it. This habit of uselessly wasting time, is the whole 
difficulty; and it is vastly important to you, and still more to your 
children that you should break this habit. It is more important to 
them, because they have longer to live, and can keep out of an idle 
habit before they are in it, easier than they can get out after they are in. 
You are now in need of some money; and what I propose is, that 
you should go to work, "tooth and nails," for somebody who will give 
you money [for] it. Let father and your boys take charge of your 
things at home — prepare for a crop, and make a crop; and you to 
go to work for the best money wages, or in discharge of any debt you 
owe, that you can get. And to secure you a fair reward for your labor, 
I now promise you, that for every dollar you will, between this and 
the first of next May, get for your own labor, either in money, or as 
your own indebtedness, I will then give you one other dollar. By this, 


if you hire yourself at ten dollafrs] a month, from me you will get 
ten more, making twenty dollars a month for your work. In this, I do 
not mean you shall go off to St. Louis, or the lead mines, or the gold 
mines, in calif [fornia], but I [mean for you to go at it for the best 
wages you] can get close to home [in] Coles county. Now if you will 
do this, you will soon be out of debt, and what is better, you will have 
a habit that will keep you from getting in debt again. But if I should 
now clear you out, next year you would be just as deep in as ever. You 
say you would almost give your place in Heaven for $ 70 or $ 80. Then 
you value your place in Heaven very cheaply for I am sure you can 
with the offer I make you get the seventy or eighty dollars for four or 
five months work. You say if I will furnish you the money you will 
deed me the land, and, if you dont pay the money back, you will de- 
liver possession. Nonsense! If you can't now live with the land, how 
will you then live without it? You have always been [kind] to me, 
and I do not now mean to be unkind to you. On the contrary, if you 
will but follow my advice, you will find it worth more than eighty 
times eighty dollars to you. 

Affectionately Your brother, 
A. Lincoln. 42 

Johnston did not take Lincoln up on this generous offer, for a 
letter from Lincoln to Johnston nearly a year later shows that 
Johnston's financial habits had not improved. This letter will 
be examined later. 

Lincoln's help for Johnston extended beyond financial offers. 
In 1850 Johnston wanted to get a contract to carry mail from 
Greenup in Cumberland County to Charleston, by way of Camp- 
bell (Farmington), a distance of twenty-two miles. Lincoln en- 
dorsed and guaranteed Johnston's bid. He wrote to Johnston 
from Springfield on February 23, 1850: 

Dear Brother Your letter about a mail contract was received yester- 
day. I have made out a bid for you at $ 120, guaranteed it myself, got 
our P M here to certify it, and send it on. Your former letter, concern- 
ing some man's claim for a pension, was also received. I had the claim 
examined by those who are practised in such matters, & they decide he 
can can [sic] not get a pension. 
Lincoln added a few words about a tragedy in his own family. 
Edward Baker Lincoln, the second child, had died on February 
1, 1850, when nearly four years old. "As you make no mention 
of it, I suppose you had not learned that we lost our little boy. 

42 Collected Works, vol. II, pp. 15-16. Nicolay and Hay, Complete Works of 
Abraham Lincoln, vol. II, pp. 144-146, erroneously date this letter "January 
(?) , 1851." The letter was written on the same sheet as the letter of December 
24, 1848, to Thomas Lincoln. Barton, Paternity, p. 267, suggests that "John 
D. Johnston doubtless lied in the letter he sent to Abraham Lincoln in the 
name of Thomas, when Abraham was in Congress, pleading for a gift of 
twenty dollars to save the Illinois farm from being sold under judgment. . . ." 
If Johnston intended to purloin the money, why did he not ask, in Thomas' 
name, for one hundred dollars instead of adding a request of his own for 
eighty dollars? Johnston was lazy and improvident, but there is nothing in 
the records examined to suggest that he was a liar or a thief. Abraham's 
fondness for his stepbrother is in itself a character reference. 

Lincoln's Concern for His Relatives 11 

He was sick fiftytwo days & died the morning of the first day 
of this month. He was not our first, but our second child. We 
miss him very much. Your Brother in haste 

A. Lincoln 43 

Lincoln's continuing interest in his Hanks relations is shown 
by a letter he wrote to John Talbot Hanks, son of Dennis, who 
had moved to Oregon. On September 24, 1860, in the midst of 
the presidential campaign, he took time to reply to a letter which 
John had written to him on July 22, I860. 44 He advised him to 
remain in Oregon if he was doing well. "If you have a good 
start there, and should give it up, you might not get it again, 
here, or elsewhere/' He reported to John that "I heard from our 
relations over at Charleston, about three weeks ago, and they 
were well then." Lincoln signed himself "Your Uncle." John was 
the son of Sarah Elizabeth Johnston Hanks, Lincoln's stepsister. 
He died in Oregon, aged ninety, about 1912. 45 

The strained relationship which so often exists in a family with 
children of different parentage was completely absent in that 
of Thomas and Sarah Lincoln. Not only was there deep affection 
between Sarah and her stepson Abraham, but Abraham and 
Sarah's son John D. Johnston were fond of each other. This is 
shown not only by Abraham's often expressed concern for John's 
welfare, but also by John naming one of his sons for his step- 
brother. Another son was named Thomas, after John's stepfather. 
In 1861, after John's death, Abraham spoke of him in a most 
affectionate manner in a conversation with Augustus H. Chap- 
man. As we have seen, in 1856 and in 1857 John's son Thomas 
ran afoul of the law, and on both occasions Abraham came to his 
assistance. Abraham's relationships with his stepsisters, Sarah 
Elizabeth and Matilda, were on an affectionate brotherly basis. 
In 1844 he took Harriet, daughter of Sarah Elizabeth, into his 
Springfield home to give her a better educational opportunity. 
His last trip to Coles County, in 1861, was marked by a visit to 
the home of Matilda, where his stepmother was living. 

The quality of warm human kindness, so marked in Abraham 
Lincoln's character, may have been, in part at least, a reflection 

43 Collected Works, vol. II, pp. 76-77. Johnston did not get the mail contract, 
which went to O. Sallee on a bid of $95. Letter, Victor Gondos, Jr., Industrial 
Records Branch, the National Archives, to the writer, March 19, 1953. 

44 Letter from Hanks, dated "Canyonvill Douglas Co. Origon July 22 I860" 
in Robert Todd Lincoln Collection in the Library of Congress, No. 3371. 
Printed in David C. Mearns: The Lincoln Papers, vol. I, pp. 267-269. Cited 
hereafter as Mearns. 

45 Collected Works, vol. IV, p. 120; Papers in Illinois History, 1939, p. 148. 


of his happy home life as a boy after Sarah became his stepmother 
when he was ten years old. The affectionate relationships be- 
tween Sarah, her children, and her stepson, were due to her own 
motherly affection, shared without distinction with the son of 
Thomas and with her own children. 

Lincoln's Concern for His Relatives 





















County Seat 





Mt. Pulaski 







Tremont, Pekin (1850) 


Me ta mora 






Abraham Lincoln! s 
Coles County Law Practice 

ABRAHAM LINCOLN practiced law in Coles County for a 
number of years, most frequently from 1841 to 1847 and oc- 
casionally after that, although the county was not a part of 
the Eighth Judicial Circuit which included Springfield where 
Lincoln lived and had his law office. 

When the Eighth Judicial Circuit was organized on January 
23, 1839, Decatur in Macon County was the nearest courthouse 
town on the Circuit to Charleston, Coles County seat, which was 
in the Fourth Judicial Circuit. Shelby County was added to the 
Eighth Circuit on February 23, 1841, making Shelby ville the 
nearest county seat on that circuit to Charleston. It was follow- 
ing this change in the circuit that Lincoln began to take cases 
at Charleston in considerable number. The addition of Moultrie 
County (Sullivan) when that county was created on February 
16, 1843, brought another county seat town which was near 
Charleston. When Edgar County (Paris) was added to the 
circuit on February 21, 1845, Shelby County was detached, but 
was returned to the circuit on February 11, 1847. Thus from 
1847 to 1853, Edgar, Shelby, and Moultrie counties were on the 
circuit. In 1853 the Eighth circuit was reduced in size and all 
counties south of DeWitt and east of Sangamon were detached. 1 

Thus it was that Charleston, although not on the Eighth circuit, 
but on the Fourth, was a logical stopping place for those follow- 
ing the courts in Shelby, Edgar and Moultrie counties. The 
presence of his relatives in Coles County gave Lincoln an addi- 
tional reason for stopping at Charleston. 

According to Amanda, daughter of Dennis Hanks, Lincoln fre- 
quently stayed at the Hanks home in Charleston when in town 

1 Bulletin, no. 40 (September 1935) of the Abraham Lincoln Association, 
pp. 3-5. 


Lincoln's Coles County Law Practice 81 

to attend court. Writing in 1901 when she was 68 years old, 
Mrs. Amanda Hanks Poorman recalled: 

Uncle Abe was at our home more than he was out at his father's . . . 
when he was in the Charleston neighborhood his business was almost 
always in town. He made our home his regular stopping place. . . . 
Our cabin had three rooms, all on one floor, and was daubed weather- 
tight with mud. When Uncle Abe came we had to make arrangements 
to give him room. I was the youngest child, and generally went to the 
floor to sleep while Uncle Abe occupied my bed. . . . 

In the spring of the year, when court was to be in session a week in 
Charleston, we always looked forward to the coming of Uncle Abe, who 
would be at our home and spend the week there, giving his days to his 
work in the court room and giving his nights to us in our home. We 
would gather around him in front of the fireplace and he would tell 
us stories until far into the night. . . . 

[When Abraham was coming] we laid in an additional supply of 
provisions, for he was a great eater. He liked everything. He came to 
us just his plain simple self. His trousers were almost always patched, 
and my father used to call them "Abe's spectacle pants." He went 
around in his shirt sleeves when he was in the house, and never wore a 
necktie. His clothes were always a poor fit, his trousers being too short 
and his coat always short enough to show the patches on his spectacle 
pants. There were no airs about him. He never sought to impress us 
with his importance. He didn't tell us he saw finer things in other 
houses. He indicated in every way that the way we had things in our 
home was just what he liked and that he dearly loved to be with us. 2 

Another daughter of Dennis Hanks, Mrs. Harriet Hanks Chap- 
man, described Lincoln as a lawyer in eastern Illinois, in a state- 
ment printed in a St. Louis paper in the 1880's. Mrs. Chapman 
was quoted as saying that in his law practice, Lincoln "was noted 
for his unswerving honesty . . . juries listened intensely [sic], 
earnestly, receptively to the sad-faced man . . . nothing could 
move him when once his resolutions were formed. There was 
nothing scholarly in his speeches, and he always rested his case 
on its merits, only asking for simple Western justice, and the 
texture of the man was such that his very ungainliness was in his 
favor before a pioneer jury. His face always wore a sweetened and 
kindly expression, never sour and burning to win them, his tall 
frame swaying as a pine, made him a restless pleader." Mrs. 
Chapman remembered a case in which Lincoln, satisfied as to his 
client's innocence, depended mainly on one witness. That wit- 
ness told under oath what Lincoln knew to be a lie, but no one 
else knew this. In his address to the jury Lincoln said, "gentle- 
men, I depended on this witness to clear my client. He has lied. 

2 Article in St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 26, 1901. In Joseph Wallace scrap- 
book, pp. 508-512, in Horner Library, Illinois State Historical Library. 
Amanda was born in 1833, and thus was 8 years old when Lincoln began to 
attend the sessions of the Coles County Circuit Court in 1841. After sixty 
years, Mrs. Poorman's memory may have been supplemented by her imagina- 


I ask that no attention be paid to his testimony. Let his words 
be stricken out, if my case fails. I do not wish to win in this way." 
His scorn of a lie touched the jury, and he won his case. From 
such incidents came the expression "Honest Abe," Mrs. Chapman 
said. Lincoln's power over a jury was illustrated by the statement 
of an opposing lawyer one evening during a term of court. Mrs. 
Chapman reported that he said, "Our case is gone; when Lincoln 
quit he was crying, the jury was crying, the judge was crying, 
and I was a little damp about the lashes myself. We might as 
well give the case up." 3 

Many interesting stories have been told of Lincoln's experiences 
while riding the circuit. One Coles County incident has been told 
by Henry C. Whitney, who first met Lincoln in 1854: 

One night, when Judge Treat and four lawyers, including Lincoln, 
were staying at a farmhouse east of Charleston, they were all put in 
two connecting rooms to sleep, in one of which was a fire, whose 
smoldering embers cast fitful flashes of light in the opaqueness of the 
two chambers. Judge Treat slept in the room with no fire, and getting 
up in his long nightgown in the night to visit the fireplace for some- 
thing, awoke Gen. Linder, who slept in the room having the fire. The 
latter, being superstitious, thought a veritable ghost had entered the 
room, and he set up a series of shrieks, which Lincoln afterwards 
avowed, chilled his blood to the extreme capillaries. Lincoln said, in 
describing the scene, that no one who had never heard such exclama- 
tions, could imagine the awful terror which the human voice could 
convey. 4 

Whitney is also the source of another incident of Lincoln's 
Coles County law practice. Whitney got the story from Judge 
David Davis: 

The judge told me he never saw Lincoln angry at poor accommodations 
on the circuit but once. They arrived at Charleston on a cold, wet 
afternoon, chilled through and uncomfortable; the landlord was away; 
there were no fires nor wood. Lincoln was thoroughly incensed; he 
threw off his coat, went to the wood-pile, and cut wood with an axe 
for an hour. Davis built a fire, and when the landlord made his appear- 
ance late, Lincoln gave him a good scoring. 5 
Yet another Coles County story dealing with Lincoln's law 
practice was told to Mrs. Gridley in 1891 by Mr. Abram High- 
land of Charleston. His story concerned a case in which Lincoln 
and Orlando B. Ficklin of Charleston were opposing counsel. 
If the story is true, it was probably a case before a justice of the 

'Clipping, no name or date, reprinted from St. Louis Globe-Democrat, 
about 1886, Courtesy of Dr. Harry E. Pratt. 

1 Whitney, Circuit, p. 72. "Judge Treat" was Samuel H. Treat, justice of 
the Illinois Supreme Court, 1841-1855, and the judge assigned to the Eighth 
Circuit following a reorganization of the Illinois judiciary in 1841. "Gen. 
Linder" was Usher F. Linder, chosen as Attorney General of Illinois in 1837. 
The "farmhouse east of Charleston" may have been the home of Stephen 

r> Whitney, Life, vol. I, p. 197. 

Lincoln's Coles County Law Practice 83 

peace. It was tried in a very small and dilapidated rural school 

house in Coles County. 

Mr. Lincoln was compelled to stoop very much in order to enter the 
door and the seats were so low that he doubled up his legs like a jack- 
knife. Mr. Lincoln was obliged to sit upon a school bench and just in 
front of him was another, making the distance between him and the 
seat in front of him very narrow and uncomfortable. His position was 
almost unbearable and in order to carry out his preference which he 
secured as often as possible, and that was to "sit as near to the jury as 
convenient," he took advantage of his discomfort and said to the justice, 
"Your Honor, with your permission I'll sit up nearer to the gentlemen 
of the jury, for it hurts my legs less to rub my calves against the bench 
than it does to skin my shins." 

There has never been compiled a list of the cases in Coles 

County Circuit Court in which Lincoln appeared as an attorney. 

Due to the incomplete case files at the courthouse at Charleston 7 

for the period in which Lincoln practiced, it is unlikely that a 

complete list ever will be made. The following compilation, 

therefore, is by no means complete. Included are some cases 

in which Lincoln's participation is a matter of tradition rather 

than of available record. We also have included Lincoln's State 

Supreme Court cases and' his Federal Court bankruptcy cases 

which originated in Coles County. 

Officers of the Coles County Circuit Court 

The judges in the Circuit Court of Coles County during the 
period when Lincoln had cases there (1840-1857) were: 

Justin Harlan, 1836-1840. 

Chief Justice William Wilson of the Illinois Supreme Court, 1841-1848, 
as required by the Act of February 10, 1841, which abolished the 
office of Circuit judge and assigned circuit duty to Supreme Court 
justices. Other Justices substituted for Chief Justice Wilson at times. 

Justin Harlan, 1849-1856, after the Constitution of 1848 revived the 
office of circuit judge (Article 5, section 1) . Appointed Indian Agent 
by President Lincoln in 1862. 

Charles Emmerson, 1857-1859. 

The prosecuting attorneys for the circuit in which Coles County 
was located were: 

Garland B. Shelledy, 1839-1840. 

Aaron Shaw, 1841-1842. 

Alfred Kitchell, 1843-1854, with others serving in a pro-tempore capacity 

during portions of those years. 
Edward Kitchell, 1855-1856. 
John R. Eden, 1857-1859, later a member of Congress, 1863-1865, 1873- 

1879 and 1885-1887. 

°Gridley, p. 134. 

7 There is reason to believe that some years ago these files were rifled of 
manuscripts in Lincoln's handwriting by an unscrupulous "collector" of 
Lincoln material. The absence of Judge's Dockets for much of the period is 
especially to be regretted. 


The circuit clerks of Coles County were: 

Nathan Ellington, 1835-1855, until his murder by his son-in-law, 
Adolphus F. Monroe. 8 

James D. Ellington, 1856, son of Nathan Ellington. 

George W. Teel, 1857-1864. 
The sheriffs of Coles County were: 

Albert Compton, 1839-1845. 

Lewis R. Hutchason, 1846-1850. 

Richard Stoddart, 1851-1852. 

Thomas Lytle, 1853-1854. 

John R. Jeffries, 1855-1856. 

Harvey B. Worley, 1857-1858. 

Abraham Lincoln's Coles County Cases 
There was a tradition among the Coles County relations of 
Abraham Lincoln that his first law case was in Coles County. 
According to the story, as told to Mrs. Gridley by John J. Hall, 
his uncle Joseph Hall attended a religious "camp meeting" at 
Paradise with a bottle of whiskey in his wagon. The preacher 
seized Hall's bottle, took it with him to the pulpit, and an- 
nounced that he had found it on the camp grounds and was 
going to preach a sermon about it. Hall admitted ownership 
of the bottle, and asked that it be returned. The preacher re- 
fused. Hall said nothing, but determined to bring suit, as there 
was a lawyer in the family. The next time Abraham Lincoln was 
in Coles County, Hall had him bring suit against the preacher. 
Lincoln won the case and Hall received twelve cents damage. 
The preacher was so angry that he appealed the case to a higher 
court. Lincoln won the appeal, also, and the judgment was in- 
creased to fourteen cents. Also, the preacher had to pay the 
court costs. 9 The same story with variations, also is a tradition 
in the Sawyer family. This version places the case before Lincoln 
was admitted to the bar in Springfield in 1837. The preacher 
broke the bottle at the pulpit and had Joseph Hall arrested. 
Lincoln was visiting his folks at the time and undertook to defend 
Hall, who was acquitted. Hall then brought suit against the 
preacher for the loss of his bottle of whiskey. 10 

That's the story, in its two forms. If it took place according 
to the Sawyer version, it must have been in the fall of 1835, when 
as we have seen, Lincoln probably visited his Coles County folks 
before a December session of the legislature at Vandalia. 

A search of the court records discloses no such case in or near 
1835. On October 9, 1843, however, Joseph Hall was awarded 

8 Circuit Court Record, vol. Ill, pp. 100-103, for trial and conviction of 
Monroe, who met his death at the hands of a mob. 
•Gridley, pp. 108-109. 
10 Clarence W. Bell: "Sawyer Family Traditions." 

Lincoln's Coles County Law Practice 85 

15c and $7.65 costs from one Isaac Odell for the loss of one pint 
bottle and its contents, in a suit before Justice of the Peace 
Thomas Jeffries. Hall had six witnesses in his behalf, among 
them John D. Johnston. Odell appealed the case to the Circuit 
Court and posted a $50 appeal bond. The case was decided by 
a jury trial on May 21, 1844. The jury gave Hall damages of 
fourteen cents (one cent less than the justice's court) and his 
circuit court costs. Each party was to pay his own cost before 
the justice of the peace. Dennis F. Hanks was a member of the 
jury. 11 Was Lincoln Hall's attorney in this case? The records 
seen by the writer do not show the attorneys in the case. Lincoln 
was in Jacksonville on October 6, 1843, and in Springfield on 
October 11. It is unlikely that he was in Charleston on October 
9. On May 21, 1844, the date of the appeal trial, Lincoln was in 
Springfield. 12 

September 30, 1840. Isaac Sears vs. Thomas Lincoln and John 
D. Johnston. An appeal from a judgment in justice's court. Judg- 
ment reversed. As already noted, it is by no means certain that 
Abraham Lincoln was an attorney in this case. 13 

May 28, 1841. John F. Vest vs. Robert E. V. Williams, John A. 
Love, Reuben Williams and Thoda Garrett. Lincoln appeared 
for the defendants. A trespass suit. A jury was called, but the 
plaintiff said he would not prosecute and withdrew all right of 
action. An affidavit by Robert E. V. Williams in Lincoln's hand, 
in the Herndon and Weik Manuscripts, dated May 26, 1841, 
relates that Vest had told Williams that he, Vest, was without 
funds. Williams noted that Vest, therefore, would be unable to 
meet the costs of the suit if he should lose it. 14 

May 28, 1841. James B. Moore vs. William B. White. A tres- 
pass suit. Lincoln for the defendant. Case continued, and on 
May 26, 1842, again continued. On Lincoln's motion the plaintiff 
was ruled to enter bond for costs within ninety days. Case dis- 
missed at defendant's cost on October 25, 1842. 15 

11 Circuit Court Record, vol. II, p. 4. Papers on suit before Justice of the 
Peace Court in lower vault of the Circuit Clerk's office. 

12 Pratt, 1840-1846, pp. 197-198, 230. 

13 Circuit Court Record, vol. I, pp. 288, 339. 

14 Circuit Court Record, vol. I, p. 390; Pratt, p. 74; Herndon-Weik Mss., 
Library of Congress, group III, No. 3122. Microfilm in Illinois State Historical 
Library, Springfield. (Cited hereafter as Herndon-Weik Microfilm) ; Rufus 
Rockwell Wilson: Uncollected Works of Abraham Lincoln, vol. II, pp. 107- 
108. Cited hereafter as Wilson. 

15 White's plea in Lincoln's hand, filed May 28, 1841. Wilson, vol. II, pp. 
110-111, cites Herndon-Weik collection. Circuit Court Record, vol. I, pp. 390, 
430, 490; Pratt, 1840-1846, p. 126. 


May 29, 1841. John P. Aertson vs. Gideon M. Ashmore and 
H. J. Ashmore. Suit for $500 damages over a $400 note. Lincoln 
and Orlando B. Ficklin for the plaintiff. On May 29, 1841, 
Gideon M. Ashmore confessed judgment for $182.91 which 
Aertson accepted in settlement of the case, Ashmore in addition 
paying the costs. 16 

May 29, 1841. Elijah Ewing vs. William Goodman. Lincoln 
for the defendant. A case of trespass, assault and battery. Case 
continued and plaintiff gave security. On May 24, 1842, the case 
was dismissed at the defendant's cost. 17 

July 16, 1841. People ex. rel. Duncan vs. Compton, Sheriff of 
Coles County. Not a case at Charleston. In the Illinois Supreme 
Court. Lincoln and Stephen T. Logan for the defendant. There 
is no record of this case in the Coles County Circuit Court Record, 
nor in the published reports of the Supreme Court. The de- 
fendant was ruled to return a fee bill and execution for costs 
within twenty days. On December 14, 1841, Lincoln moved to 
discharge this rule. After argument by Lincoln on December 15, 
the court approved his motion on December 16. 18 

In 1842 Lincoln and his partner Stephen T. Logan took a large 
number of bankruptcy cases before the federal district court. 
Five of these cases came from Coles County. Harry E. Pratt, who 
made a study of this bankruptcy practice by Logan and Lincoln, 
concludes that these Coles cases probably were sent to Lincoln 
at Springfield by Alexander P. Dunbar, Charleston lawyer and 
friend of Lincoln. These cases arose under the act of August 19, 
1841, which took effect on February 1, 1842. This was the first 
federal voluntary bankruptcy law. It was in effect for only thir- 
teen months, being replaced on March 3, 1843. Each case re- 
ceived a notice in the Sangamo Journal, a preliminary hearing, 
a second notice, and a final hearing. This final hearing in many 
cases was held at Kaskaskia. The following were the Coles County 
cases, with the dates of the first notice in the Journal and the 
final hearing given in each case: 

Nathan Reed, February 25, 1842; June 8, 1842. 
Elijah Williams, July 1, 1842; October 1, 1842. 
B. U. White, August 29, 1842; March 6, 1843, Kaskaskia. 

10 Aertson 's complaint in the case, in Lincoln's hand, was filed on May 27, 
1841. Herndon-Weik Microfilm, group III, No. 113; Wilson, vol. II, pp. 108- 
110. Settlement of the case in Circuit Court Record, vol. I, p. 403. 

17 Goodman's affidavit, in Lincoln's hand, and dated May 28, 1841, was filed 
the next day. Wilson, vol. II, pp. 111-112, cites Herndon-Weik Collection. 
Circuit Court Records, vol. I, pp. 402, 414; Pratt, 1840-1846, pp. 74, 126. 

18 Pratt, 1840-1846, pp. 81, 103; Pratt: "Lincoln's Supreme Court Cases" in 
Illinois Bar Journal, Sept. 1943, cites Supreme Court file No. 14133. 

Lincoln's Coles County Law Practice 87 

Richard W. Eastern, October 7, 1842; March 3, 1843, Kaskaskia. 
Jacob Miller, November 25, 1842; March 24, 1843, Kaskaskia. 19 

May 25, 1842. Anne Patterson vs. Young E. Winkler. A patern- 
ity suit in which Lincoln represented the defendant. On April 
23, 1842, Anne Patterson made affidavit before Justice of the 
Peace Stephen B. Shelledy that Young E. Winkler was the father 
of her illegitimate female child born on March 26, 1841. Shelledy 
thereupon issued a warrant for Winkler's arrest. Winkler plead 
guilty in a hearing before Shelledy, and posted a bond of $200 for 
his appearance in circuit court. The case never came to trial. In 
a document in Linclon's hand, dated May 25, 1842, Winkler 
acknowledged that he was the father of Eliza Jane, illegitimate 
daughter of Anne Patterson. He agreed to pay $50 yearly for 
seven years for the child's support, and entered a bond of $350. 
On this basis the case was settled. 20 On May 24, 1842, the case 
of John Patterson vs. Young E. Winkler was dismissed at the de- 
fendant's cost. Lincoln for Winkler in this case, also. Was this 
suit a parallel action brought by Anne's father? 21 

May 27, 1842. James E. Pearson and George W. Anderson vs. 
Byrd Monroe and John Easton. A debt case. Lincoln for the 
plaintiffs, Usher F. Linder for the defendants. The declaration 
of the plaintiffs, in Lincoln's hand, filed May 24, 1842, is in the 
Herndon and Weik manuscripts. On May 27, 1842, the case was 
continued, and on October 25, 1842, it was dismissed at the de- 
fendant's cost. A companion case, Pearson and Anderson vs. Byrd 
Monroe, also was dismissed at the defendant's cost on October 25, 
1842. Was Lincoln an attorney in both cases? 22 

May 28, 1842. John Morris vs. Benjamin Jones, William R. 
Jones, and Dumas J. Vanderen. A suit over an unpaid note, dated 
August 29, 1839, for $400 with twelve per cent interest. Lincoln 
and Alexander P. Dunbar for the plaintiff, who was awarded 
$290.40. A declaration by Morris, in Lincoln's hand, reciting the 
facts of the case, was filed on May 13, 1842. 23 

May 28, 1842. Benjamin D. Turney vs. Archalaus Craig. A suit 
for damages. Lincoln and Orlando B. Ficklin for the plaintiff. 

19 Harry E. Pratt: Lincoln and Bankruptcy Law. Chicago, The Poor 
Richard Press, 1943 (Reprinted from Illinois Bar Journal, January 1943) . 

20 Wilson, vol. II, pp. 300-302; Herndon-Weik Microfilm, group III, No. 2179. 
Justice of the Peace records in this case are on file in lower vault of Circuit 
Clerk's office, box "1842." 

21 Circuit Court Record, vol. I, p. 422. 

"Circuit Court Record, vol. I, pp. 454, 490, 491; Pratt, 1840-1846, pp. 126, 
148; Wilson, vol. II, pp. 299-300; Herndon-Weik Microfilm, group III, No. 

23 Circuit Court Record, vol. I, p. 468; Pratt, 1840-1846, p. 126; Wilson, vol. 
II, pp. 297-299: Herndon-Weik Microfilm, group III, Nos. 2103-2106. 


Usher F. Linder was one of the attorneys for the defendant. Case 
continued. Tried by a jury on October 29, 1842, and the plaintiff 
recovered $300 damages and costs. 24 

May 24, 1843. John W. Rodgers vs. John Stewart. A property 
suit (possession of a horse?). Lincoln (?) for Rodgers, who was 
awarded the property in dispute, plus costs and damages. It is 
possible that Lincoln was Rodgers' attorney in this case. 25 See 
discussion under year 1857, below. 

October 16, 1843. James H. Bagley vs. Isaac D. Van Meter. A 
slander suit. Lincoln and Linder for the plaintiff, who received 
$80 damages after a jury trial. He had sued for $1,000. Bagley's 
bill of complaint, in Lincoln's hand, is in the Library of Congress, 
bearing the notation that it was filed with Nathan Ellington, 
Coles County Circuit Clerk, on October 10, 1843. Bagley com- 
plained that Van Meter had stated before witnesses that Bagley 
"swore a damned lie, and I can prove it." The Herndon and 
Weik manuscripts have, also in Lincoln's hand, an assignment by 
Bagley of $40 to Linder and $30 to Logan and Lincoln, "if said 
judgment shall amount to so much." This was dated October 27, 
1843. 26 

October 21, 1844. James Alexander, Administrator of John H. 
McClelland, deceased, vs. Thomas Affleck. An equity suit. Alex- 
ander P. Dunbar for the complainant, Lincoln for the defendant. 
Injunction granted, October 21, 1844 and dissolved four days 
later. Amount in controversy, $1876.79. Defendant recovered 
costs of the complainant. On May 15, 1845, Affleck filed an 
answer to the bill in chancery filed against him by Alexander. 
Affleck was father-in-law of McClelland and was accused of wrong- 
fully retaining property belonging to McClelland's estate follow- 
ing the death of the latter. Affleck deposed that McClelland had 
assigned the property to him to enable him to pay a debt owed 

24 Circuit Court Record, vol. I, p. 466, 515; Pratt, 1840-1846, p. 148; Albert 
A. Woldman: Lawyer Lincoln, p. 102 (Cited hereafter as Woldman) ; Hertz, 
Abraham Lincoln, A New Portrait, vol. II, p. 533. Cited hereafter as Hertz. 
Hertz prints a plea of not guilty by the defendant. Also in Wilson, vol. II, 
p. 347. 

25 Circuit Court Record, vol. I, p. 543. Lincoln was in Taylorville on May 
22, and in Petersburg on June 5. His whereabouts for the intervening period 
have not been established. Pratt, 1840-1846, pp. 178-180. 

20 Circuit Court Record, vol. I, p. 569; Pratt, 1840-1846, p. 199; Miscellaneous 
Lincoln Manuscripts, Library of Congress; Weik, p. 160; Wilson, vol. II, pp. 
471-472; Herndon and Weik Mss., group III, No. 137. Van Meter's plea as 
defendant is in the Jesse W. Weik Papers in the Illinois State Historical 
Library, folder 1833-1849. Cited hereafter as Weik Papers. 

Lincoln's Coles County Law Practice 89 

by McClelland to a firm in Cincinnati. The case was continued 
on October 10, 1845 and finally dismissed on October 15, 1846. 27 

May 12, 1845. Thomas McKibben vs. Jonathan Hart. A slander 
suit. Lincoln and John H. Murphy for the plaintiff. Alexander 
P. Dunbar for the defendant. McKibben sued Hart for $2,000 
damages because Hart had called him a horse thief. The plain- 
tiff recovered $2,000 and costs, but $1,700 of the $2,000 was re- 
mitted, and a stay of execution for twelve months of the remain- 
der except for $50 was agreed to. In addition to the $50, Hart 
was to pay the costs and Dunbar's fee. McKibben's agreement to 
this, and also his assignment of $35 to Lincoln as his fee, both in 
Lincoln's hand, are in the Herndon and Weik manuscripts. 
Lincoln instructed the Circuit Clerk to pay his $35 to his father. 
The money was paid as directed, for the original assignment by 
McKibben has added in the hand of John D. Johnston, Lincoln's 
stepbrother, "Thos. Lincoln by J. D. Johnston." 28 

This was not the only instance of Lincoln assisting his father 
by sharing with him the proceeds of his local law practice. As we 
have seen, in his letter of December 7, 1848, to his son, Thomas 
Lincoln mentioned a number of promissory notes Abraham had 
given him to collect for his own benefit. Thomas mentioned four 
notes, one signed by James Gill, one by Robert Mattison (Mat- 
son?) and "two small notes," the names of the makers not men- 
tioned. It would appear that before leaving Illinois for Washing- 
ton to attend the short session of the Thirtieth Congress, Lincoln 
had given these notes to his father as a means of helping him. 

May 13, 1845. Michael Ryan vs. Elias Anderson. A seduction 
case. Anderson had seduced Ryan's daughter. Lincoln and Ficklin 
for the defendant. Linder for the plaintiff. On May 14 a jury 
awarded the plaintiff damages of $656 plus costs and charges. The 
defense made a motion for an arrest of judgment. On May 15 a 
defense motion for retrial was denied. An appeal was filed, an 
exception being taken to the instructions of the judge to the jury, 
and bond of $100 was furnished. 29 Anderson had difficulty in 
raising the money to pay his attorneys, for on May 15, 1845, the 

^Circuit Court Record, vol. II, pp. 28, 53, 112, 135; Hertz, vol. II, pp. 539- 
541; Herndon-Weik Microfilm, group III, Nos. 19, 20. McClelland died on 
September 1, 1842, leaving no will. James Alexander was appointed adminis- 
trator on October 24, 1842. An inventory of the estate showed a value of 
$2070.73. Coles County Probate Files, No. 1485. Office of County Clerk. 

28 Circuit Court Record, vol. II, pp. 29, 60; Pratt, 1840-1846, p. 281; Weik, 
pp. 160-161; Wilson, vol. II, pp. 623-626; Herndon and Weik Mss., group III, 
Nos. 1793-1803. McKibben's complaint, filed March 26, 1845, is in the Weik 
Papers, folder 1833-1849. 

29 Circuit Court Record, vol. II, pp. 66, 70, 77. 


day the case was appealed, he gave two promissory notes for $100, 
one each to Lincoln and Ficklin. To guarantee payment, he gave 
Lincoln and Ficklin a deed to 160 acres of land in southeastern 
Coles County (town 11 north, range 11 east), the deed to be 
cancelled if he paid the $200 due on the notes by June 15, 1845. 30 
The case was appealed to the Supreme Court where it was decided 
in December 1846, the judgment being affirmed, with costs. The 
opinion of the court, by Justice Samuel D. Lockwood, included 
a pointed criticism of the common law rule used by the appellant 
in seeking to have the judgment set aside. The opinion stated: 

It has long been considered as a standing reproach to the Common 
Law, that it furnishes no means to punish the seducer of female inno- 
cence and virtue, except through the fiction of supposing the daughter 
was a servant of her parent, and that in consequence of her seduction, 
the parent has lost some of her services as a menial. It is high time 
this reproach should be wiped out. 
The Court concluded that: 

This action ought then, no longer to be considered a means of 
recovering damages for the loss of menial services, but as an instrument 
to punish the perpetrator of a flagitious outrage upon the peace and 
happiness of the family circle. 

We are consequently of opinion, that that portion of the instruction 
excepted to was not erroneous. The judgment is consequently affirmed 
with costs. 31 
October 8, 1845. William Frost vs. Wesley Gillinwater. A 
slander suit. Lincoln and Thomas A. Marshall for the defendant, 
Ficklin and Linder for the plaintiff. A demurrer to the declara- 
tion of the plaintiff, in Lincoln's hand, denying that he (Gillin- 
water) had called Frost a thief, is in the Herndon and Weik manu- 
scripts. Filed on October 8, 1845, it was overruled by the court 
that same day, and the case came to trial. A jury was chosen, but 
was discharged by agreement of the parties, who also agreed that 
a statement by the defendant (Lincoln's client) should be entered 
in the record, as follows: 

Defendant states that he has never spoken the slanderous words in 
the declaration alleged, that he always has believed and still believes the 
plaintiff to be an honest man, that he never has believed and does not 
now believe that the plaintiff stole, embezzled, or in any way appropri- 
ated to his own use any of the Defendant's money, and that he makes 
this statement to be placed upon the record as the most public and 
enduring vindication that he can make of the Plaintiff's reputation 
against such a charge. 
The case was dismissed with the plaintiff to pay the costs. 32 

50 Deed Records, vol. I, p. 144. 

31 8 Illinois 583-589; John T. Richards: Abraham Lincoln the Lawyer-States- 
man, p. 227. Cited hereafter as Richards. In the appeal to the Supreme Court, 
Lincoln alone represented Anderson. A. T. Bledsoe was associated with Linder 
in representing Ryan. 

32 Circuit Court Record, vol. II, pp. 99, 105; Wilson, vol. II, pp. 651-653; 
Herndon-Weik microfilm, group III. Nos. 810, 811. 

Lincoln s Coles County Law Practice 91 

October 8, 1845. Henry Eccles vs. James Milton True, Edmund 
True, and Simon W. True. A damage suit for $500, based on the 
destruction of property. Lincoln, Linder, and Dunbar for the 
plaintiff, Ficklin and Marshall for the defendants. Eccles' decla- 
ration, alleging the destruction by the defendants of buildings 
and other improvements on land owned by him, was filed on 
September 1, 1845. The answer of the defendants, claiming that 
Eccles had no title to the property involved, was filed on Sep- 
tember 7, 1845. The case came to trial on October 8, 1845, and a 
jury awarded the plaintiff damages of fifteen dollars and costs. 33 

May 11-14, 1846. Lincoln probably attended court at Charles- 
ton. On May 7, 1846, Lincoln wrote from Springfield to James 
Berdan: "It is a matter of high moral obligation, if not of 
necessity, for me to attend the Coles $c Edgar courts. I have some 
cases in both of them, in which the parties have my promise, and 
are depending upon me. The court commences in Coles on the 
second monday, and in Edgar on the third." 34 

Summer of 1846 or 1847. John J. Hall stated in 1891 that 
during the summer of 1846 or 1847 Lincoln stayed at his father's 
house for at least two weeks. The reason for the long visit was 
that Lincoln "wanted to study something out about the law." He 
spent the time "a laying and a thinking," until he announced 
"I've done enough studying and I reckon I'd better go back to 
Mary." 35 While improbable, this story is not impossible. Pratt 
has no record of Lincoln's whereabouts from June 11, 1846, to 
July 17, and from August 5 to September 5 of the same summer. 
Similarily, Thomas has no record for the period August 6 to 
September 1, 1847. 30 All three of these periods in the summers 
of 1846 and 1847 are long enough to have been used by Lincoln 
as Hall stated. Such an incident would not have been out of 

October 14, 1846. The People vs. Sigler H. Lester. Indictment 
for assault with intent to commit murder and bodily injury. 
Lincoln and Ficklin for Lester, who was indicted on October 8, 
1845, and brought to trial a year later, on October 14, 1846. A 
document on this case in Lincoln's hand, reads as follows: 

This day came the defendant and moved the court to quash the 
Indictment herein because of a misjoinder of counts which motion was 
over-ruled by the court— The defendant then moved the court, to rule 

33 Circuit Court Record, vol. II, p. 108; Wilson, vol. II, pp. 647-650; Hern- 
don-Weik microfilm, group III, Nos. 662, 663, 3031, 3032. 

34 Pratt, 1840-1846, p. 333; Collected Works, vol. I, p. 380. 

a% Gridley, p. 167. Hall was 17 years old in 1846. 

3,5 Pratt, 1840-1846, pp. 337-342, 345-349; Benjamin P. Thomas: fjncoln Day 
by Day, 1841-1853, pp. 32-36. Cited hereafter as Thomas, 1847-1853. 


the prosecuting attorney to elect as to which count of the Indictment 
he would proceed upon, and to enter a nolle prosequi as to the other 
counts because of a misjoinder of counts, which motion was also over- 
ruled by the court. 37 

The same statement appears on the court record, with the added 
information that the defendant then petitioned for a change of 
venue, which was granted by the court to Cumberland County. 
Five witnesses gave bond of one hundred dollars each for their 
appearance at the Cumberland County court a few days later to 
give testimony in the case. 38 

Lester was convicted in the Cumberland court. On May 19, 
1847, a petition to Governor Augustus C. French for his pardon 
was signed by 179 persons, residents of Coles and Cumberland 
counties. The petition was written by Lincoln, who was among 
the signers. It reads as follows: 

To the Honorable, the Governor of the State of Illinois— 

Whereas Sigler H. Lester was, at the May term 1847 of the Cumber- 
land circuit court, by said court, convicted of an assault with intent to 
commit murder, and sentenced to confinement in the Penitentiary for 
the term of one year, and whereas there are circumstances, which in 
our opinion render it proper, that the Executive clemency should be 
extended to him, therefore We, the undersigned, respectfully recom- 
mend that Your Excellency grant a pardon of said offence to said 

Among the signers were O. B. Ficklin, Thomas A. Marshall, 
Alexander P. Dunbar, Nathan Ellington, John D. Johnston, 
Dennis Hanks and Abraham Lincoln, whose signature was the 
seventeenth on the document. A pardon was given to Lester on 
August 14, 1847. 39 

Lester must have been a man of violence, for on March 28, 
183*%, he was required to give bond for fifty dollars to keep the 
peace toward one Jacob Cease, and on July 26, 1844, he was tried 
before a justice of the peace and fined forty dollars and costs for 
assault on one John C. O'Brian and family. Lester appealed this 
conviction to the Coles County Circuit Court, where after one 
continuance on October 22, 1844, the case was dismissed for want 

37 This document was located by the writer in the lower vault of the Coles 
County Circuit Clerk's office, in a file box marked "Peoples 1831-1846." 

^Circuit Court Record, vol. II, pp. 99, 127. The witnesses were Samuel 
Johnson, George W. Bacon, Joseph Foster, William B. Squires, and Hezekiah 
Vandoren. Cumberland County court records were destroyed by a fire in 1885 
which destroyed the courthouse at Toledo. Theodore Calvin Pease: The 
County Archives of Illinois, p. 155, Springfield, Illinois State Historical 
Library, 1915. Vol. XII of the Collections of the Library. 

39 Pardon Papers, Illinois State Archives; Executive Register, vol. V, p. 15, 
Illinois State Archives; Collected Works, vol. I, p. 394. 

Lincoln's Coles County Law Practice 93 

of prosecution on May 13, 1845. 40 The writer has seen no evi- 
dence that Lincoln represented Lester in these earlier cases. 

October 17, 1846. Pearson and Anderson vs. Byrd Monroe. The 
same parties as those in the suit settled on October 25, 1842. 
Lincoln and Marshall for the plaintiffs. The case was continued 
when it came up on October 17, 1846, was again continued on 
May 13, 1847, and on October 12, 1849, it went from Coles to 
Shelby County on a change of venue. 41 

October 19, 1846. Lincoln attended the Coles County Circuit 
Court for its October 1846 term, which opened on October 19. 
On October 22 he wrote to William Brown, "I have just returned 
from Coles, . . ." 42 

May 14, 1847. Vincent Strader vs. Davis Harris. A replevin 
suit over the ownership of a horse and cow. Lincoln and Ficklin 
for the defendant. The case was continued, and settled on May 9, 
1848, when Lincoln was in Washington as a member of Congress. 
Harris got the cow. 43 

October 14, 1847. John Linder vs. Abraham H. Fleenor. A 
slander suit. Lincoln for the defendant, who lost. Linder sued 
Fleenor for $1,000 damages. Usher F. Linder and Ficklin were 
Linder's attorneys. 44 Jesse Weik, who tells the story in detail, be- 
came interested in this case because the incident involved occur- 
red at his birthplace, Greencastle, Indiana. Linder was suing 
Abraham Fleenor because he had accused Linder of perjury. Lin- 
der had testified before the grand jury that Levi B. Fleenor and 
Emeline Fleenor, living together as man and wife, were not 
married. The Fleenors claimed that Levi and Emeline had been 
married at Greencastle. This Linder denied, stating that they 
had not stopped in Greencastle more than fifteen minutes, while 
migrating to Coles County and that Emeline did not even leave 
the wagon. Lincoln, representing the defendant, insisted that this 
was no bar to a legal marriage if a preacher or squire was at hand 
to perform the ceremony. Lincoln's client lost the suit. A judg- 
ment of $1,000 was given to Linder, but $950 was remitted. Weik 
adds that Lincoln must have been mislead by his client, for a 

40 Circuit Court Record, vol. I, p. 171; vol. II, pp. 29, 65. Papers on trial 
before the justice of the peace in the lower vault of the Circuit Clerk's office. 

41 Circuit Court Record, vol. II, pp. 149, 161, 273; Herndon-Weik microfilm, 
group III, Nos. 2195-2200. The declaration of the plaintiffs, in Lincoln's hand, 
dated April 26, 1847, is among the documents. 

42 Collected Works, vol. I, p. 389. 

48 Circuit Court Record, vol. II, pp. 167, 195; Thomas, 1847-1853, p. 20; 
Herndon-Weik microfilm, group III, Nos. 988-989. 

"Circuit Court Record, vol. II, pp. 156, 183. Thomas, 1847-1853, p. 42; 
Herndon-Weik microfilm, group III, Nos. 1617-1629. 


search of the Greencastle records failed to produce evidence of 
the marriage there of Levi Fleenor or any other member of the 
family. 45 

October 16, 1847. Robert Matson vs. Hiram Rutherford. The 
famous "Matson slave case." Lincoln, Linder and Marshall for 
the plaintiff. This case is described in detail in the next chapter. 

October 16, 1847. Levi Watson vs. James Gill. A suit for 
damages. Lincoln (?) for the defendant, Linder for the plaintiff. 
Watson recovered damages of $215, and costs. 40 The only evi- 
dence that Lincoln represented Gill is the reference to a note on 
James Gill given by Lincoln to his father, in Thomas Lincoln's 
letter of December 7, 1848, previously quoted. It is possible that 
Gill made the note to Watson, who assigned it to Lincoln in 
payment of his fee. If this was the case, Lincoln was associated 
with Linder as counsel for Watson. 

October 22, 1847. A. Lincoln, for the Use of Thomas Lincoln 
vs. R. D. Hodges. A suit brought by Lincoln for his father before 
a justice of the peace for the collection of a debt of five dollars. 
Justice J. B. Harris issued a summons on October 22, 1847, for 
Hodges to appear before him on October 30 to answer Lincoln's 
complaint. Hodges failed to appear and judgment against him 
was entered by default for five dollars and costs. Failing to pay, 
writs of execution were issued against him on November 23, 1847, 
February 22, 1848, and May 13, 1848. In each case the constable 
serving the writ reported "no property found." The date of the 
serving of the third writ was July 10, 1848. The total costs 
amounted to $3.76, making a total of $8.76 which Hodges owed, 
and, as far as the record shows, never paid. 47 

1850 (?) The famous hog thief case, in which Lincoln is sup- 
posed to have secured the acquittal of a guilty man without 
realizing his guilt, took place in Coles County about the year 
1850, according to Herndon. The writer has not identified the 

45 Weik, pp. 165-167. Even if Levi and Emeline Fleenor had not been parties 
to a marriage ceremony, their relationship would have constituted a "common 
law" marriage under the Illinois law of that period. 257 Illinois 27. Citation 
supplied by Mr. J. Y. Kelly of Charleston, Illinois. 

46 Circuit Court Record, vol. II, pp. 189, 196. On May 9, 1848, when Lincoln 
was in Washington, a motion for a new trial was overruled. The judgment 
was paid on October 17, 1848, $197 to Linder, Watson's attorney. 

47 Transcrpit of record in box of justice of the peace records in lower vault 
of Circuit Clerk's office. The transcript was filed with the clerk of the Circuit 
Court on October 13, 1848. Abraham Lincoln was in Springfield on October 
22, 1847. He left Charleston on October 17. Thomas, 1847-1853, p. 43. Pre- 
sumably he filed the suit before he left Charleston. The name of the lawyer 
who handled the case after Lincoln's departure does not appear in the records 
examined by the writer. 

Lincoln's Coles County Law Practice 95 

case in the Coles County Circuit Court records. 48 The defendant, 
unnamed by Herndon, pleaded not guilty and said he was unable 
to hire a lawyer. The court appointed Lincoln to defend him. 
The defendant refused to give Lincoln any evidence to use in his 
behalf, and asked Lincoln to defend him on "general principles/' 
To Lincoln's surprise, the man was acquitted despite strong evi- 
dence of his guilt. After the trial Lincoln's client admitted his 
guilt to Lincoln. The stolen hogs had been sold to his neighbors, 
some of whom were on the jury. They knew that if they found 
him guilty they would lose their hogs! 49 

May 1, 1850. The People vs. William D. Davis. A murder case. 
On May 1, 1850, Davis was indicted for murder by the Coles 
County Circuit Court grand jury, and a warrant was issued for 
his arrest. There is no other reference to this case in the Coles 
County Circuit Court records. In 1941, Dr. Harry E. Pratt re- 
ported that Davis was indicted for the murder of Henry W. 
Lothan and that a change of venue was granted to Clark County 
where a special term of court was called on July 1, 1850. Lincoln 
represented Davis. On January 10, 1853, Lincoln wrote to Gov- 
ernor Joel A. Matteson, requesting a pardon for Davis. Lincoln's 
plea was as follows: 

In July 1850, a man by the name of William D. Davis, was tried and 
convicted of the crime of Manslaughter and sentenced to the Peniten- 
tiary for the term of three years, by the circuit court of Clark County, 
whither the case had been taken by a change of venue from Coles 

I assisted in his defence, and thought his conviction was right, but 
that the term fixed was too long under the circumstances. I told him 
that if he would behave himself well for a considerable portion of the 
time, I would join in asking a pardon for the remainder. He has a 
young family, and has lost one of his arms— He has now served about 
five sixths of his time; and I understand, the Warden, who is now in 
Springfield, testifies that he has behaved well- Under these circum- 
stances I hope he may be released from further confinement— 

Your Obt. Servt. 
A. Lincoln/ 

Since the case originated in Coles County, it is assumed that 

48 The only two cases recorded in the Record from the April term, 1849, to 
the July term, 1852, in which defendants accused of theft were acquitted after 
jury trials were People vs. Thomas Ingrum, April 30, 1849 (vol. II, p. 216) , 
and People vs. Arthur Collins, July 13, 1852 (vol. II, p. 382) . Lincoln was in 
Springfield on both of these dates. Thomas, 1847-1853, pp. 123, 290. 

49 Herndon and Weik Mss., group III, Nos. 3765-3767. Photostats from 
Library of Congress. 

50 Circuit Court Record, vol. II, pp. 284, 285; article in Paris, Illinois, Daily 
Beacon News, February 12, 1941. Original letter to the Governor in Illinois 
State Archives, also in Collected Works, vol. II, pp. 187-188. This letter has 
no endorsement by the Governor, nor is there any record of a pardon for 
William D. Davis in the Pardon Papers in the Archives. 


Lincoln represented Davis in the courts of both Coles and Clark 


November 24, 1851. Dennis F. Hanks vs. William B. White. 

An equity suit. Lincoln and Linder for Hanks. 51 Bill filed on 

November 24, 1851. The original bill, in Lincoln's hand, but 

signed "Lincoln and Linder" in the hand of Usher F. Linder, was 

on file in the Coles County Circuit Clerk's office until its removal 

in 1949 to the Illinois State Historical Library. This document, 

never before printed to the writer's knowledge, is as follows: 

To the Honorable, the Judge 

of the Coles County Circuit Court 

in Chancery sitting: 

Humbly complaining showeth unto your Honor your orator, Dennis 
F. Hanks, that for some time previous and up to the day of [October 24] 
A.D. 1834 one Nathan Ellington was the owner in fee simple of Lot 
numbered Thirty-nine in Parker's Addition to the town of Charleston, 
in said County of Coles; that previous to said day, said Ellington had 
contracted to sell said Lot to one Brown, who in like manner had con- 
tracted to sell the same to your orator, that said Ellington still holding 
the legal title; that on the day last aforesaid your orator furnished the 
money, necessary to pay for said lot [$24], to one William B. White, 
and engaged said White to get said Ellington and Brown together, pay 
for the lot, and have a deed made for the same; that said White did on 
said day, with your orator's said money, pay for said lot, and take a 
deed for the same from the said Ellington and his wife [Fanny M. 
Ellington], a copy of which is herewith filed marked (A) and prayed 
to be taken as part hereof— But, in taking said deed, said White did, 
for some reason unknown to your orator, take said deed to himself, 
instead of your orator; and your orator, at the time having confidence 
in the said White, that he would convey said Lot to your orator on 
request, let the matter pass; but your orator immediately took posses- 
sion of said Lot, built a house thereon, and otherwise improved it, 
moved into said house, and continually resided in it for about ten years, 
when, it suiting his convenience, he removed off of said Lot, leaving it 
without any actual occupant, in which condition it has ever since con- 
tinued, and still is— And your orator charges that said White has not 
any time exercised any acts of ownership over said Lot, or paid any 
taxes thereon; but on the contrary, your orator has continually, openly 
treated said Lot as his own, and regularly paid all taxes upon it, from 
the said [24th] day of [October] A.D. 1834 up to the present time- 
Yet so it is, that the said White has been requested by your orator, and 
utterly refuses to convey said Lot to your orator— 

In tender consideration of which your orator prays that said William 
B. White be made defendant to this Bill; that the People's writ of 
Subpoena issue for him, that he answer all and singular the allegations 
of this Bill, but his oath to his answer is hereby expressly waived; and 
that on a final hearing of this cause, your Honor will adjudge the legal 
title of said defendant to be in trust for your orator, and that your 
Honor will grant such other and further relief as equity may require, 
and as in duty bound &c. 

[Signed] Lincoln and Linder 52 

Subpoenas requiring White to appear before the court at 

Charleston were issued to the Sheriff of Hamilton County, dated 

51 Circuit Court Record, vol. II, pp. 406, 438. 

Lincoln's Coles County Law Practice 97 

February 2, 1852, and September 17, 1852. Both were served, on 
April 20 and October 2, according to the notations by the Sheriff 
of Hamilton County on the originals on file in the Circuit Court 
at Charleston. A subpoena to White County, dated September 1, 
1852, was not delivered as White was not found in that county. 
On July 16, 1852, a motion was made that the case be dismissed 
at the plaintiff's (Hanks') cost, which was done when both Hanks 
and White appeared in court with their attorneys on October 16, 
1852. Evidently Hanks had failed to remember correctly his 
business arrangements with White made in 1834, eighteen years 
before. 53 

Was the William B. White in this case the same William B. 
White who was Lincoln's client in Moore vs. White in 1841? An- 
other case involving a William B. White (the same?) and relatives 
of Lincoln was The People vs. William B. White tried in October 
1847. Lincoln was in Charleston as the time of this trial. The 
prosecution, of course, was in the hands of the circuit attorney. 
Lincoln would not have taken part in the defense of White, who 
had been indicted on October 15, 1846, for assault with intent to 
rape Mrs. Mary Johnston, the wife of John D. Johnston, Lincoln's 
stepbrother. The case was tried by a jury on October 13, 1847, 
and White was found not guilty. His defense was that he was at 
his own home at the time of the alleged assault. 54 

August 18, 1852. Lincoln signed a call for a meeting of the 
incorporators of the Springfield and Terre Haute Railroad, to 
be held at Charleston on August 18, 1852. He may have been 
present. 55 

April 12, 1855. Thomas A. Marshall vs. Samuel Laughlin. This 
was a suit brought by Marshall on two $500 certificates of deposit 
endorsed to him by Laughlin on a Cincinnati banker who went 
bankrupt two days after the notes were presented unsuccessfully 

52 Since Lincoln did not sign this document, and since he omitted the date 
of the Ellington-White deed transfer, October 24, 1834, it is possible that 
Lincoln was not in Charleston when he wrote this document. He may have 
sent it to Linder from Springfield. Thomas, 1847-1853, p. 257, locates Lincoln 
in Springfield on November 24, 1851. Why did not Linder insert the miss- 
ing date? 

58 The Ellington-White transaction on October 24, 1834, in Deed Records, 
vol. A, p. 355, contains no reference to Hanks. The consideration was $24. On 
November 22, 1852, the lot in question was subdivided by White. The plat of 
William B. White's subdivision was recorded, Deed Records, vol. P, p. 416. 

54 Circuit Court Record, vol. II, pp. 130, 134, 155, 180. Mrs. Mary Barker 
Johnston died in 1850. Her husband remarried on March 5, 1851. His second 
wife was Nancy Jane Williams. 

55 Illinois Journal, July 9, 1852. Microfilm in Illinois State Historical Library. 
Thomas A. Marshall and Usher F. Linder also were among the signers. Call in 
Collected Works, vol. II, p. 133. 


for payment. Lincoln and Linder for Marshall. On April 12, 
1855, the case was continued, with the costs to be paid by the 
defendant. On April 9, 1856, the parties waived a jury trial, and 
the court "took time" to render a decision. On April 13, 1856, 
the plaintiff was awarded $1,000 plus costs and charges. The case 
was appealed to the State Supreme Court, where Lincoln, Linder, 
and Herndon represented Marshall. The Supreme Court affirmed 
the judgment of the lower court in an opinion by Chief Justice 
John D. Caton. 56 

1857 (?). Mrs. Susan D. Baker, daughter of Isaac W. Rodgers 
of Pleasant Grove Township, many years later told of a suit 
brought by her father when she was about six years old in which 
Lincoln was her father's lawyer. Her statement would place the 
suit about the year 1857. According to Mrs. Baker it was a suit 
over the possession of a colt, which Rodgers claimed had strayed 
from his pasture into that of a neighbor named Steward. Rodgers 
engaged Lincoln, visiting in Charleston at that time, as his 
lawyer. Lincoln advised him to tie the colt equidistant from the 
two mares and then release it. It would go to its mother. This 
was done and the colt went to the Rodgers mare. Rodgers won 
his case when this was brought out in the trial. 57 

There is no record of such a case in the Coles County Circuit 
Court near the time mentioned. It may have been before a 
justice's court. On the other hand, Mrs. Rodgers may have been 
confusing her recollection with a family tradition. The Coles 
County Circuit Records do show, on May 24, 1843, or eight years 
prior to Mrs. Baker's birth, a suit between John (not Isaac) W. 
Rodgers vs. John Stewart (not Steward) in which Rodgers re- 
covered property from Stewart. 58 

Mrs. Baker's story is similar to an account in J. G. Holland's 
biography of Lincoln, written in 1865 and published the next 
year. Holland gives "the details of a case in the Coles Circuit 
Court." He does not give the date nor the names of the parties 
to the suit. Lincoln, he explains, was the attorney for the de- 

56 Circuit Court Record, vol. Ill, pp. 68, 164, 208; 19 Illinois 391; Richards, 
p. 245. There is some doubt that Lincoln appeared in Charleston in connec- 
tion with this case. On April 12, 1855, he was in Bloomington. Lincoln's 
whereabouts on April 9, 1856, have not been established. It is improbable 
that he was in Charleston when the case was decided in the Circuit Court on 
April 13, 1856, for his presence in Springfield on April 12 has been established. 
Paul M. Angle, Lincoln Day by Day 1854-1861, pp. 67, 119, 120. Cited hereafter 
as Angle, 1854-1861. 

57 Account of Mrs. Baker in Lincoln Anniversary Supplement to Lerna 
Weekly Eagle, February 1928. Copy in possession of the writer. 

58 Circuit Court Records, vol. I, p. 543. 

Lincoln's Coles County Law Practice 99 

fendant (Rodgers was the plaintiff in Mrs. Baker's story), who 
won the suit. As Holland states the case the colt-mare test was 
made before the suit, not while it was in progress, and Lincoln 
had nothing to do with the test. He did, however, use the result 
of the test to win the suit for his client. He made it clear to the 
jury that the "preponderance of evidence" was with his client's 
contention, thanks to the choice made by the colt, despite the 
fact that the plaintiff had a greater number of men testifying that 
the colt was his property. 59 

Additional substance is given to Mrs. Baker's story by Hern- 
don's account of Lincoln's visit to Coles County in 1861. Among 
those who came to greet the President-elect was one man who 
"brought with him a horse which the President-elect, in the 
earlier days of his law practice, had recovered for him in a 
replevin suit. . . ." 60 If the case had been tried in 1843, the horse 
in 1861 would have been at least eighteen years old; if in 1857, 
onlv four vears old. 

Did Lincoln actually take part in a suit in Coles County in 
whicn tne ownersuip ot a colt was decided by the colt selecting 
its owner's mare as its dam? It is impossible to say positively yes 
or no. The combination of Mrs. Baker's story, Holland's account 
of a similar case in Coles County, and Herndon's account of 
Lincoln greeting in 1861 a man for whom he had, years before, 
recovered a horse, would make it appear that the story had some 
basis in fact. However, it is impossible from available records to 
identify the case with one in which we are certain that Lincoln 
was an attorney. If such a case did occur, it probably was that of 
Rodgers versus Stewart in 1843. 

January 4, 1857. David A. Morrison and John Crabtree vs. 
Illinois Central Railroad; David A. Morrison vs. Illinois Central 
Railroad. Abraham Lincoln was not connected with these cases 
until they reached the Supreme Court, where he was associated 
with O. B. Ficklin and H. C. Whitney as counsel for the railroad. 
These cases were damage suits for the loss in value of cattle 
shipped from Urbana to Chicago. In the Coles County Circuit 
Court the plaintiffs won damages of $1,200 (Morrison and Crab- 
tree) and $672 (Morrison alone) after jury trials. Appeals to the 
Supreme Court were allowed and the cases were combined in the 
appeal. Justice Sidney Breese of the Supreme Court gave the 
opinion which reversed the lower court on the ground that the 
shippers had assumed the risks in transit, having secured lower 

59 Holland: Life of Abraham Lincoln, pp. 80-82. Cited hereafter as Holland. 
^Herndon, p. 388. 


than the regular freight rates. The case was decided in the De- 
cember 1857 term of the Supreme Court. Woldman observes that 
the question involved in the case "was of vast importance to both 
the business public and the railroad interests in general, in that 
it established the right of a railroad to restrict its liability to a 
shipper by express agreement." The decision "has been cited 
many times in other courts, including the Supreme Court of the 
United States." Lincoln's notes on the case are in the Herndon- 
Weik manuscripts. 61 

May 18, 1857, The People vs. Thomas L. D. Johnston. Lincoln 
probably did not represent Johnston, son of John D. Johnston, 
in this case which we have already examined, in the chapter on 
Lincoln's concern for his Coles County relatives. 02 

November 14, 1857. Lincoln informed a correspondent that it 
would be impossible for him to attend court at Coles or Edgar 
counties, or any of the courts in Judge Harlan's circuit (the 
Fourth). 63 The rearrangement of the circuit court districts in 
1853, as we have noted, removed Edgar, Shelby and Moultrie 
counties from the Eighth Circuit. Coles, now in the Fourth 
Circuit with Edgar, had never been in the Eighth. It is probable 
that Lincoln did not appear as an attorney in any case before the 
Coles County Circuit Court after 1857. He was, however, asso- 
ciated a number of times with Coles County lawyers in cases that 
were appealed to the Supreme Court at Springfield. 

January 11, 1858. Usher F. Linder and Henry P. H. Bromwell, 
law partners in Charleston, sent to Lincoln at Springfield a decla- 
ration in the case of Shephard vs. Walker, which they wanted him 
to file in the District Court. They wrote that their "reason for 
sending to you is that as we are not familiar with the practice in 
that court we feared it might not be rightly entitled &c." 64 
Lincoln replied on January 13, that the case would be tried at 
the June 1858 term of court. He did not mention the name of 
the parties to the suit, but the dates of the correspondence indi- 
cate that his letter referred to the Shephard vs. Walker case. 05 

December 24, 1858. On this date E. W. and S. M. True of 
Mattoon telegraphed to Lincoln at Springfield, "Have suit with 

"Circuit Court Records, vol. Ill, pp. 464-465; 19 Illinois 136-141; Herndon- 
Weik microfilm, group III, Nos. 1288-1293; Woldman, p. 170; Richards, p. 242. 

fl2 Circuit Court Record, vol. Ill, pp. 271, 302; Angle, 1854-1861, p. 177. 

03 Collected Works, vol. II, p. 426. To Ozias Bailey, of Edgar County. 

w Photostat of letter "Linder & Bromwell" to A. Lincoln, Esq., in files of 
Illinois State Historical Library. Marked "United States Court Document." 
Courtesy of Dr. H. E. Pratt. 

66 Original letter in Bromwell Papers, Library of Congress, vol. XI, No. 
1078C. In Collected Works, vol. II, p. 431. 

Lincoln's Coles County Law Practice 101 

Bank of State of Indiana in United States [District Court] at 
Springfield. Want you to defend." 06 Did Lincoln act in this case? 
The writer does not know. 

April 1859. William Kile and David Nichols vs. John Crabtree. 
Lincoln was not associated with this case until it reached the 
Supreme Court on appeal. This was a suit over the payment of 
a note for $2,550 given by Crabtree to Kile and Nichols in 1856 
for eighty-one head of cattle. The case originated in Edgar County 
and went to Coles County on a change of venue. Crabtree lost in 
Coles Circuit Court on May 28, 1858, and appealed to the Su- 
preme Court, where his appeal was upheld in April 1859. Lincoln 
and Herndon represented Kile and Nichols before the Supreme 
Court. 67 Lincoln took the case at the request of Thomas C. W. 
Sale of Paris, Edgar County, who wrote to him on December 14, 
1858, as follows: 

In the case of John Crabtree plaintiff in error vs. William Kile and 
David Nichols defendants in error now in the Supreme Court from 
Coles Circuit Court; my clients Kile and Nichols wish to have the 
benefit of your services. The writ is returnable on the 4th of January, 
I believe. Will you be so kind as to take charge of the case? It was 
tried by Mr. Usher of Terre Haute and myself for K and N and messers 
Linder and Green for Crabtree. 

Dr. Kile of this place whom I suppose you know will be in Springfield 
about the first of January and see you in person. I will add if you 
undertake your fee is certain to be paid. 68 

January 12, 1860. On this date M. C. McLain of Charleston 
wrote to Lincoln concerning a suit in which he wished Lincoln 
to act. The letter follows: 

Charleston Jan. 12, 1860 
Hon. A. Lincoln, Springfield 

I left your city on Friday last without being able to see and talk with 
you on the subject of the case Harris and Headen [?] vs. J. W. True. 

The plaintiffs you have doubtless learned were allowed to amend 
their appeal bond within ten days. Should they do so I still desire that 
you look after the suit and will be with you again on Monday eve- 
ning next. 

M. C. McLain. 69 
The writer has been unable to find any reference to this case in 
the Coles County Circuit Court Record or in the Supreme Court 
Reports. Whether or not Lincoln acted in this case, either 
originally or on the appeal, does not appear in any material ex- 

66 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, Library of Congress, No. 1555. Cited 
hereafter as Robert Todd Lincoln Collection. 

67 21 Illinois 180-186. Transcript of record from Coles County, dated Novem- 
ber 30, 1858, in Herndon-Weik microfilm, group III, Nos. 1423-1425; Circuit 
Court Record, vol. IV, p. 146; Richards, p. 246. A printed abstract of the case 
by Crabtree's attorney, A. Green, as it went to the Supreme Court is in the 
Weik Papers, folder 1850-1869. 

88 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 1532. 
69 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 2237. 


amined by the writer. John W. True was from Mattoon, and 
was well known to Lincoln. 

In the January 1860 term of the Illinois Supreme Court Lin- 
coln and Milton Hay represented David V. N. Radcliff and others 
in a series of cases appealed from the Coles County Circuit Court. 
Judgments had been entered against Radcliff and his fellow de- 
fendants, which included the Illinois Central Railroad and the 
Terre Haute, Alton and St. Louis Railroad, in a series of mechan- 
ics' lien suits. The Supreme Court reversed the decrees of the 
Circuit Court. The plaintiffs in the Coles County Circuit Court 
were Albert H. Pierce, Davis M. Reese and George N. Baker, 
David Y. Crosby, David W. Watson, John P. Usher, and Thomas 
B. Jones. 70 

Family tradition has it that Lincoln was the attorney for 
Fountain Turner, who resided southeast of Charleston in what 
later (1859) became Hutton Township, in a suit in which U. F. 
Linder was the opposing lawyer. The writer obtained this in- 
formation from Mr. Samuel S. Sargent of Hutton Township, 
grandson of Fountain Turner. The Coles County Circuit Court 
Record shows Fountain Turner a party to two suits, in both of 
which he was the defendant. Both cases were dismissed at the 
plaintiff's cost. In Ebenezer L. Miller et al vs. Fountain Turner, 
dismissed on October 24, 1844, Thomas A. Marshall is mentioned 
as the attorney for the plaintiffs. 71 In Ambrose Edwards vs. 
Fountain Turner, dismissed on June 3, 1857, the attorneys were 
Linder for the plaintiff and Ficklin and Mann for the defend- 
ant. 72 Lincoln may have been Turner's attorney in the 1844 case. 
He may have been in eastern Illinois at the time. 73 

Lincoln was an attorney in at least twenty-four cases which 
were heard before the Coles County Circuit Court, and probably 
a good many more. In these twenty-four cases of which we have 
a clear record of Lincoln's participation, twenty-two were civil 
cases. He represented the plaintiff in twelve cases, the defendant 
in ten. How did he come out in these cases? When representing 
the plaintiff, Lincoln won nine times and lost twice. The out- 
come of one case, transferred to another county, is not known to 
the writer. As an attorney for the defendant, Lincoln won four 

70 Circuit Court Record, vol. IV, pp. 151-152, 382-404, 430-431, 436-471; 23 
Illinois 473. The cases were started on May 31, 1858. O. B. Ficklin and S. W. 
Moulton represented the defendants in the Coles County Circuit Court. 

71 Circuit Court Record, vol. I, pp. 503, 528, 540, 566; vol. II, pp. 25, 38. 

72 Circuit Court Record, vol. Ill, pp. 256, 446; Coles County Circuit Court 
Judge's Docket, 1855-1858, p. 54. 

73 Pratt, 1840-1846, p. 252. 

Lincoln's Coles County Law Practice 103 

times and lost five times. His clients got off with only the costs 
charged against them in three of these five cases. Perhaps these 
should be considered as partial victories. One case never came to 
trial, but was settled on terms favorable to the plaintiff. Lincoln's 
clients lost in both criminal prosecutions. He attempted to get 
pardons for both, and succeeded in one case. To summarize, in 
Coles County Circuit Court Lincoln won thirteen, lost nine, one 
never came to trial, and we are uninformed about the result of 
one case. Lincoln's record as a Coles County barrister, then, was 
good but not spectacular. Surviving records show that Lincoln's 
cases were well prepared, and that when he had co-counsel he 
carried his share, and more, of the load. 

The Matson Slave Case 

THE MOST DRAMATIC and controversial case in which 
Abraham Lincoln appeared as an attorney in the Coles County 
Circuit Court was the "Matson slave case," in October 1847. x 

The case involved the freedom of a negro woman, Jane Bryant, 
and her four children: Mary Catherine, Sally Ann, Mary Jane, 
and Robert Noah. Anthony Bryant her husband was a free negro 
employed as the farm foreman of Robert Matson of Kentucky. 
For some years Matson had farmed land two miles east of New- 
man in what is today Douglas County (created 1859) but was 
then in Coles County. Since 1843 Matson had brought slaves 
from Kentucky to his "Black Grove" farm 2 for the farm work each 
spring, returning them to Kentucky in the fall. Matson claimed 
that the slaves were not Illinois residents, and hence were not 
entitled to their freedom. Bryant, his year-around foreman, be- 
came free because of his permanent residence in Illinois, although 
it seems he did not receive a "certificate of freedom," as required 
by Illinois law. 

Bryant's wife Jane, with her four children, was among the 
slaves brought by Matson to Black Grove in the spring of 1847. 
When the time approached for their return to Kentucky in the 
fall of 1847, Bryant took his wife and the four children to nearby 
Oakland and placed them under the protection of two Coles 
County abolitionists, Gideon Mathew Ashmore, local tavern pro- 
prietor, and Dr. Hiram Rutherford, to prevent their being re- 
turned to Kentucky. 3 Ashmore gave shelter to Jane and her 

1 Circuit Court Record, vol. II, pp. 191, 196; Herndon-Weik microfilm, group 
III, Nos. 1950-1974; O. B. Ficklin: "A Pioneer Lawyer," in The Tuscola Review 

(Tuscola, 111.) , Sept. 7, 1922 (reprinted from a Charleston, 111., paper, January 
15, 1885) ; Duncan T. Mclntyre: "Lincoln and the Matson Slave Case," in 
Illinois Law Review, January 1907, pp. 386-391; Jesse W. Weik: "Lincoln and 
the Matson Negroes. A Vista into the Fugitive Slave Days," The Arena, April 
1897, pp. 752-758; Beveridge, vol. I, pp. 392-397; Sandburg, vol. I, pp. 330-335; 
Tarbell, pp. 258-260; Woldman, pp. 59-64. 

2 Entered by Robert Matson, Aug. 3, 1842. Wi/ 2 , NW14, Sect. 33, T. 16 N., 
R. 14 W of the 2nd Principal Meridian. 


The Matson Slave Case 105 

Matson made affidavit that the negroes sheltered by Ashmore 
were his slaves. After a hearing of two days before Justice of the 
Peace William Gilman, the five negroes were lodged in the Coles 
County jail in the custody of Sheriff Lewis R. Hutchason. They 
were in Illinois without "letters of freedom," and under the law 
they must be kept, advertized, and their labor sold to pay for their 
keep. After holding the negroes for forty-eight days the sheriff 
filed a claim against Matson for $107.30 for "keeping and dieting 
five negroes" at thirty-seven cents each per day. The next step in 
the case came on October 16, 1847, when Ashmore, through his 
attorney, Orlando B. Ficklin, applied to the Circuit Court for 
the release of the negroes on a writ of habeas corpus.* In retalia- 
tion, Matson sued both Rutherford and Ashmore for $2,500 for 
having taken his slaves from him. 

Lincoln entered the case at this point. The October term of 
court had arrived and he was present with other circuit-riding 
lawyers. Chief Justice William Wilson of the state Supreme 
Court, judge of the Fourth Circuit, presided, assisted by Justice 
Samuel H. Treat of that Court, judge of the Eighth Circuit. A 
Supreme Court justice was not on the Coles County bench be- 
cause of the importance of the case; Supreme Court justices at this 
time performed circuit duty. The presence of Justice Treat, 
regularly assigned to an adjoining circuit, however, was indicative 
of the interest aroused by the case. He was present at the invita- 
tion of Justice Wilson, according to Ficklin. 

Usher F. Linder, Matson's attorney, requested Lincoln to assist 

3 Dr. Rutherford came to Coles County from Pennsylvania in December 
1840. He was Robert Matson's physician during the period 1842-1843, as noted 
in the doctor's account book in the possession of his granddaughter, Mrs. 
Elizabeth Rutherford Zimmerman of Oakland, Illinois. Ashmore came from 
Tennessee. According to Orlando B. Ficklin, in an account first published on 
January 15, 1885, in the summer of 1847, while Matson was absent in Ken- 
tucky, his housekeeper at the Black Grove farm, Mary Corbin, in a fit of anger 
told Sim Wilmot, brother of Jane Bryant and also a slave, that when Matson 
returned it was his intention to return the Negroes to Kentucky and sell them. 
Sim told his sister and her husband, who appealed to Ashmore for help after 
being refused assistance by two nearby church groups. Ashmore called in Dr. 
Rutherford. According to Ficklin, Ashmore and Rutherford were among "the 
most thorough -faced abolitionists of that day." Ficklin wrote that there were 
thirty-three abolitionists in Coles County in 1847. In addition to Rutherford 
and the Ashmore brothers, Gideon Mathew and Samuel Claiborn, in the 
Oakland neighborhood, Ficklin mentioned a group in the Goo^enest Prairie 
neighborhood, including members of the Rodgers, Balch, Campbell and 
Dryden families. They were "men of pluck and of the Cromweliian mold; 
sober, quiet, industrious citizens. They were lampooned and derided for not 
being either Clay Whigs or Jackson Democrats." In Tuscola (Illinois) Review, 
September 7, 1922. Courtesy of Dr. C. W. Rutherford, Indianapolis, Ind. 

4 Petition in Herndon-Weik microfilm, group III. Nos. 1953-1955. 


him in the suit against Rutherford, and Lincoln attested the bond 
for costs provided by the friends of Matson. 5 Dr. Rutherford, 
who knew Lincoln, also wished to secure his leeal services. 
Rutherford came to Charleston from Oakland for that purpose. 
Rutherford later recounted the story of his interview with Lin- 

I found him at the tavern sitting on the veranda, his chair tilted back 
against one of the wooden pillars entertaining the bystanders and 
loungers gathered about the place with one of his . . . stories. My head 
was full of the impending lawsuit and I found it a great test of my 
patience to await the end of the chapter. . . . Before he could begin 
another I interrupted and called him aside. 

I told him in detail the story of my troubles, reminded him that we 
had always agreed on the questions of the day, and asked him to repre- 
sent me at the trial of my case in court. He listened attentively . . . but 
I noticed a peculiarly troubled look came over his face now and then, 
his eyes appeared to be fixed in the distance beyond me and he shook 
his head several times as if debating with himself some question of 
grave import. 

Reluctantly, Lincoln told Rutherford that he could not repre- 
sent him, as he had already been counseled with in Matson's 
behalf, which placed him under a professional obligation. Ruther- 
ford, irritated at Lincoln's refusal, engaged the services of Charles 
H. Constable. In the meantime Lincoln secured a release in the 
case, presumably from Linder, and offered to represent Ruther- 
ford. But Rutherford had already engaged Constable, so Lincoln 
continued as Linder's associate in Matson's interest. 6 

The whole litigation — Matson's damage suit, the sheriff's 
bill, and the freedom of the five negroes — turned upon the out- 
come of the habeas corpus proceedings. Ficklin, Ashmore's coun- 
sel, realized that Matson would strengthen his claim to the 
negroes if he bid them in when their services were put up for 
sale for the jail charges, and secured a court order stopping the 
sale until the habeas corpus proceedings had been adjudicated. 
The case came up on October 16, 1847, the day the petition was 
made to the court. 

5 Beveridge, vol. I, p. 394. According to Mclntyre, Matson had gone to 
Springfield (shortly after the negroes had fled to Ashmore's tavern) and had 
consulted Lincoln. A few days after his return from Springfield Matson stated 
"that he did not know where this thing — meaning his effort to take the 
negroes back to Kentucky — would end, that he had been to Springfield to 
consult Abraham Lincoln; that he did not quite like the way he talked about 
slavery, still as he wanted the best lawyer in the country he had retained him 
for any litigation he might get into." Matson notified Lincoln to attend the 
October term of court at Charleston. Mclntyre, pp. 387-390. Document No. 
1951 in the Herndon-Weik microfilm shows that Thomas A. Marshall of 
Charleston was associated with Linder and Lincoln in Matson's behalf. 

6 Beveridge, vol. I, pp. 394-395, 

The Matson Slave Case 107 

The case hinged on the question, were the negroes held "in 
transit" while crossing the state, or were they held in the state 
by the will of their master? If only crossing the state they were 
not free, but if located in the state by the will of their master, 
they were. The question, therefore, was the "true intent and 
meaning" of Matson in placing his Kentucky slaves on his Black 
Grove farm. The only evidence that the stay of the negroes on 
Matson's farm was temporary came from Joseph Dean, Matson's 
hired man, an "ignorant, worthless fellow," according to Ficklin. 
Linder, speaking for Matson, argued that the recognition of 
slavery by the federal Constitution created an obligation to pro- 
tect slave property wherever the Constitution applied. Ficklin 
commented in later years that Linder's speech, because of the 
eloquence and boldness with which he defended Matson's claim 
to the negroes, "would have been vociferously cheered" in South 
Carolina. Linder, showing "bitter and malignant prejudice" to 
ward abolitionists, bitterly denounced Ashmore and Rutherford 
for harboring runaway slaves. 

Ficklin and Constable contended that the Ordinance of 1787 
and the Constitution of Illinois (1818) outlawed slavery in Illi- 
nois. Constable quoted effectively from the famous speech of 
Curran in defense of Rowan, a defense which made Lincoln 
wince, according to Ficklin. 

I speak in the spirit of the British law, which makes liberty commen- 
surate with and inseparable from British soil; which proclaims even to 
the stranger and sojourner the moment he sets foot upon British earth, 
that the ground on which he treads is holy and consecrated by the 
genius of universal emancipation, no matter what complexion incom- 
patible with freedom an Indian or African sun may have burnt upon 
him, no matter in what disastrous battle his liberty may have been 
cloven down; no matter with what solemnities he may have been de- 
voted upon the altar of slavery; the first moment he touches the sacred 
soil of Britain the altar and the god sink together in the dust; his soul 
walks abroad in her own majesty; his body swells beyond the measure 
of his chains that burst from around him and he stands regenerated 
and disenthralled by the irresistible genius of universal emancipation. 7 
Lincoln, speaking for Matson, did not endorse the position 
taken by Linder, but admitted that if the Matson negroes had 
been permanently located by their master in Illinois, such action 
made them free. Ficklin observed that Lincoln, as was his habit, 

his opponents' points and arguments with such amplitude and seem- 
ing fairness and such liberality of concession of their force and strength 
that it increased in his adversaries their confidence of success. This was 
done in this case, but his trenchant blows and cold logic and subtle 
knitting together and presentation of facts favorable to his side of the 

7 Beveridge, vol. 1, p. 397n. Quotation from Tuscola Review, September 7, 


case, soon dissipated all hope that any advantage was likely to be gained 
by Lincoln's liberal concession, but rather that he had gained from 
the court a more patient and favorable hearing and consideration 
of the facts on which he relied for success. The fact that General 
Matson had at such a time when he placed a slave on his Illinois farm, 
publicly declared that he was not placed there for permanent settle- 
ment, and that no counter statement had ever been made publicly or 
privately by him, constituted the web and woof of the argument of Mr. 
Lincoln, and these facts were plausibly, ingeniously and forcibly pre- 
sented to the court, so as to give them all the effect and significance to 
which they were entitled and more. 8 

Beveridge found that those present felt that Lincoln argued 
weakly, and that his speech was fatal to his client's case. 9 

The decision was in favor of the negroes. The court record 
shows the disposition of the case: 

In the matter of the petition o£ Jane Bryant, Mary Jane Bryant, Mary 
Catherine Bryant, Sally Ann Bryant and Robert Noah Bryant, Persons 
of Color, on application by Habeas Corpus for freedom, 

Now at this day come the said applicants and presented by Gideon 
M. Ashmore their petition for the writ of Habeas Corpus directed to 
Lewis R. Hutchason, Esqr. Sheriff of Coles County who held them in 
custody, and this court being satisfied in the premises, ordered the said 
writ to issue, returnable forthwith before his Honor Chief Justice 
Wilson assisted by the Honorable Samuel H. Treat Associate Justice 
of the Supreme Court; and the said writ having been returned, and the 
said Lewis R. Hutchason having returned upon the said writ the causes 
of capture and detention together with the said Negroes into court, and 
the cause coming on to be heard after testimony adduced and argument 
had and the court being satisfied what judgment to render, it is finally 
considered and adjudged that the said Applicants Jane Bryant, Mary 
Jane Bryant, Mary Catherine Bryant, Sally Ann Bryant, and Robert 
Noah Bryant be discharged from the custody as well of the said Lewis 
R. Hutchason as of Robert Matson and all persons claiming them by 
through and under him as slaves, and they be and remain free and 
discharged from all servitude whatever to any person or persons from 
henceforth and forever. It is further adjudged that this proceeding be 
certified to said Negroes, as evidence of their freedom, And the Sheriff, 
Lewis R. Hutchason having returned that said Negroes were retained 
by him upon proceedings instituted by the said Robert Matson as owner 
of said Negroes, it is further ordered that the said Robert Matson pay 
all costs due and owing by reason of the original arrest of said Negroes 
including the costs of this application and that execution issue from 
this court therefore etc. 10 
In brief, Matson lost his slaves and was charged with all costs 
involved in their arrest and detention in jail. Although his client 
lost, it is reasonable to assume that Lincoln rejoiced in the out- 
come — "that they be and remain free . . . from henceforth and 
forever." No wonder that Paul M. Angle has called this case "one 
of the strangest episodes in Lincoln's career at the bar." 11 

On October 17, the day following the issuance of the writ of 

8 Tuscola Review, Sept. 7, 1922. 

9 Beveridge, vol. I, p. 396. 

10 Circuit Court Record, vol. II, p. 191. The order was dated October 16, 1847. 

11 Whitney, Circuit, p. 315n. Note by the editor. 

The Matson Slave Case 109 

habeas corpus, Rutherford and Ashmore signed a bond for $1,000 
in behalf of the freed negroes. 12 This was necessary to insure 
their continued liberty, under the "Black Laws" of Illinois. 

When the decision was announced, according to Rutherford, 
Matson hurriedly left for Kentucky, evaded his creditors, and 
never paid Lincoln his fee. 13 

The next spring, while Lincoln was in Washington, Matson's 
suit against Ashmore was disposed of. The court dismissed the 
case and ordered that Ashmore recover his costs from Matson. 14 
Probably Ashmore never received a penny from the absent 

A week after the negroes were liberated, Dr. Rutherford de- 
scribed the case in a letter to his brother-in-law in Pennsylvania. 

Our Circuit Court sat last week, I had the pleasure of attending as 
a party to give reasons why Justice should not be done. I was sued by 
a person named Matson for the gentlemanly sum of twenty-five hundred 
dollars & 50 dol damage. The suit did not come on. My attorney 
submitted a plea of dismissal which was not decided and so it stands 
until May next. 

The circumstances of this suit arose from the following occurrences. 
About 2 years ago Matson brought with him from Kentucky a free man 
and his wife & five children who were his slaves there, to this country 
and settled them on his farm 12 miles distant from this place. He 
suffered them to remain with him till last summer, when he determined 
to remove the children to his residence in Kentucky, and leave the old 
people childless in Illinois. He had previously taken back one child 
and then resolved to remove the remaining 4. The parents to avoid 
force left his farm with their children, and came to this place, and put 
themselves under the protection of a man named Ashmore. Matson got 
out a process to take them as runaways, and the woman and children 
were brought before a court of 3 justices. A number of us feeling an 
interest in the case employed the Hon. O. B. Ficklin M.C. of this county 
to defend them. The court decided to commit them to jail as runaways, 
as it was concluded to try the case before the circuit Judge at the Oct. 
term. Matson sued Ashmore and myself for harboring them (the fine 
for which is $500 each person by law) . However the negro trial came 
on, and the arguments were heard by two of our circuit judges, who 
ordered them to be discharged from the custody of the sheriff and 
Matson pay the costs, amounting to $200. Matson left next day for 
Kentucky without his blacks and whether he will return to attend to 
the suits against Mr. Ashmore or myself in May is uncertain. Be it as 

12 Herndon- Weik microfilm, group III, No. 1958. 

13 Beveridge, vol. I, p. 397. Matson may have given Lincoln a note for some 
amount over twenty dollars, which Lincoln gave to his father. On December 7, 
1848, Thomas Lincoln wrote to his son that the note from "Robert Mattison 
I tried to sell it for 15$ in cash and coudent doe it so James M Miller offered 
John [D. Johnston] twenty dollars in goods at his trade prices & Monroe 
advised him to take it, so he sold it to him with out recourse on any body. . . ." 
Photostat from Huntington Library, San Marino, California. The letter is in 
the handwriting of John D. Johnston. 

14 Circuit Court Record, vol. II, p. 196. May 9, 1848. 


it may I feel no uneasiness as I did not have them on my premises and 
besides I expect to get rid of the suit from a defect in the declaration. 15 

A few weeks after the Matson case, when both Lincoln and 
Ficklin were in Washington for the first session of the Congress 
to which they had been elected, Lincoln remarked to Ficklin, 
when speaking of the Matson case: "Ficklin do you know that 
I think the latter part of your speech was as eloquent as I ever 
listened to?" Ficklin prized this remark "because of its rarity, 
for Lincoln seldom paid compliments in the presence of the per- 
son complimented — the rule was otherwise with him." 16 

The liberated Bryant family, Anthony, his wife and the four 
children, was given passage to Liberia by wellwishers in Illinois 
and Missouri. One of the donors was William H. Herndon, 
Lincoln's law partner in Springfield. An investigator for the 
Colored Baptist Association of Illinois, Elder S. S. Ball of Spring- 
field, saw them at Monrovia, Liberia, in the spring of 1848. In 
his report Ball stated that the Bryants had arrived in Liberia 
without funds and were living under deplorable conditions. 
Anthony asked Ball that money be provided to return the family 
to the United States. This was not done. 17 

The Illinois "Black Laws," which sought to discourage the 
presence of negroes in Illinois, were not repealed until 1865. 18 
As late as September 1864, a Coles County grand jury indicted 
one William Cash for bringing a slave, a mulatto girl named 
Adell, into the State of Illinois for the purpose of setting her free. 
When the case came before Circuit Judge Oliver L. Davis on 
April 4, 1865, he threw it out, and "ordered that this cause be 
stricken from the docket and defendant discharged." 19 

Why did Lincoln appear as an attorney for a slave owner who 
was claiming slaves in the free State of Illinois? The answer may 
be seen in his sense of professional obligation. He had advised 
Usher F. Linder, Matson's lawyer, and felt obliged not to appear 
as counsel for Matson's opponent. J. G. Holland, writing in 1865, 
pointed out in his brief description of this case, that Lincoln 
recognized slaves as property. If he had not, he "would never 
have consented to act on this case . . ." In other words, although 

15 Letter from Dr. Hiram Rutherford, Oakland, 111., to John J. Bowman, 
Elizabethville, Pa., Oct. 25, 1847. In possession of a grandson of Dr. Ruther- 
ford, Mr. Hiram John Rutherford, Oakland, 111. Courtesy of Mr. Rutherford. 

1(5 The Tuscola Review, Sept. 7, 1922. 

17 Paul M. Angle: 'Aftermath of the Matson Slave Case," in Abraham 
Lincoln Quarterly, vol. II, pp. 146-149 (September 1944) . 

JH Act approved Feb. 7, 1865. Public Laws of Illinois, 1865, p. 105. 

10 Circuit Court Record, vol. IX, p. 150. The indictment is on file in the 
lower vault of the Circuit Clerk's office. 

The Matson Slave Case 111 

Lincoln disliked slavery, he knew that it was recognized by the 
Constitution, and that a slave owner was entitled to have his 
claim properly adjudicated, even in a free state. Holland noted, 
also, that Lincoln "made a very poor plea . . . and that all of his 
sympathies were on the side of the slaves." 20 This leaves the 
question, why did Lincoln appear in the case at all? The writer 
believes that Lincoln looked upon his participation in the case 
as a matter of professional obligation only. He argued only the 
technicalities involved. Lincoln did not attempt to justify Mat- 
son's claim on any basis of equity or justice. 

•Holland, p. 121. 

Orlando Bell FickLin and Usher 
Ferguson Under 

IN THE VARIOUS county seats where Lincoln had cases, he 
followed the common practice of having local lawyers as asso- 
ciates. It was customary for the local lawyers to "get the busi- 
ness," prepare the cases, file the necessary papers and see to other 
preliminaries, and then turn the cases over to their circuit-riding 
associates for presentation in court. In Lincoln's case, however, 
it is clear that he did much of the paper work himself, even when 
he had a local associate. This is shown by the surviving docu- 
ments in Lincoln's hand which relate to his Coles County prac- 

The two lawyers with whom Lincoln worked most frequently 
in Charleston were Orlando B. Ficklin and Usher F. Linder. 1 
In addition to serving as co-counsel with them, Lincoln often 
found them as opposing counsel. In cases before the Supreme 
Court at Springfield, Lincoln and Ficklin worked together on a 
number of occasions. 

Lincoln had confidence in the ability and integrity of Ficklin 
and Linder. This is shown by a remark he made to Joseph 
Gillespie at Springfield in January 1861. Gillespie's notes of his 
visit with the President-elect include a conversation on the prob- 
lem of cabinet making. As reported by Gillespie, Lincoln re- 
marked that he wished he could take all his Illinois lawyer friends 
with him to Washington, Democrats and Republicans alike, and 
make a cabinet out of them. Lincoln said there were some Illi- 
nois Democrats whom he knew well he would rather trust than a 
Republican he would have to learn to know, for he would have 
"no time to study the lesson." Gillespie asked who these Demo- 

1 Lincoln's co-counsel has been identified in fifteen cases tried in Coles 
County Circuit Court. Ficklin and Linder acted with him in five cases each. 
Other local lawyers associated with Lincoln in Coles County, either as co- 
counsel or as opposing counsel, included Thomas A. Marshall, Alexander P. 
Dunbar, EJisha H. Starkweather and Charles H. Constable. 


Ficklin and Linder 113 

crats were. Lincoln replied: "Oh, most any of the leading 
Douglas Democrats — Linder or Ficklin, or Morrison." 2 

Ficklin was a Whig until 1842. After that he was a Democrat. 
Linder was first a Democrat, then a Whig, and finally a Democrat. 
Lincoln was a Whig before he became a Republican. Both Linder 
and Ficklin served in the legislature as Democrats, while Lincoln 
was there as a Whig. Despite these political differences, the two 
Charleston lawyers were on friendly and even cordial terms with 
Lincoln. The three men were of about the same age. 

Orlando Bell Ficklin was born in Scott County, Kentucky, on 
December 16, 1808, and died at Charleston on May 5, 1886. He 
was graduated from the Transylvania Law School in Lexington, 
Kentucky, in 1830, and was admitted to the bar at Belleville, 
Illinois, the same year. Ficklin served in the Black Hawk War in 
1832 as a quartermaster. He was state's attorney for the judicial 
circuit which included Coles County in 1835-1836. In 1837 he 
removed to Charleston. Ficklin was elected to the Illinois legis- 
lature in 1834, 1838, 1842 and 1878. He left the legislature to 
enter Congress in 1843, where he served until 1849, and from 
1851 to 1853. He was in both the legislature and Congress with 
Lincoln. Ficklin was a democratic presidential elector in 1856, 
a district delegate to the national convention of his party in 1856, 
and a delegate at large to the 1860 convention. He was a member 
of the Illinois Constitutional Convention of 1862. 3 

Ficklin gave to William H. Herndon, in a letter dated June 25, 
1865, a description of his friendship with Lincoln, and his esti- 
mate of Lincoln as a lawyer and as a stateman. Ficklin wrote: 

It will be 30 years next December since Lincoln and myself met at 
Vandalia as members of the Legislature, a friendship then commenced 
which remained unbroken by political differences, personal interests or 
otherwise, up to his death. I knew him well as a lawyer, a statesman 
and citizen, valued him highly, and deeply deplored his death. He was 
a case lawyer, but in a case when he felt that he had the right, none 
could surpass him. As a statesman he was deeply imbued with the 
principles of Henry Clay, but was conscientiously opposed to slavery 
all his life, and he expressed his views honestly and truly to the Ken- 
tucky delegation when he urged them so strongly to accept compensa- 
tional emancipation. He had a nice and keen perception of right and 
wrong, and did not wish to see rich men made poor by having their 
negroes freed without compensation. 4 

2 Rufus R. Wilson: Intimate Memories of Lincoln, p. 334. Gillespie's notes 
were first published in the Cincinnati Commercial Gazette in 1888. The 
Morrison referred to was James L. D. Morrison, 1816-1888, of Belleville, 
Democratic candidate for Governor of Illinois in 1860. 

8 LeBaron, pp. 269-297; Biographical Directory of the American Congress 
(1950), p. 1154; Moses: Illinois, Historical and Statistical, vol. II, p. 656. 
Cited hereafter as Moses. 

4 Herndon-Weik photostats, Nos. 199-291. 


Usher Ferguson Linder was born at Elizabethtown, Kentucky, 
on March 20, 1809, and died at Chicago on June 5, 1876. He 
came to Illinois in 1835 and settled first at Greenup, then in Coles 
County. He moved to Charleston in 1838, after a brief residence 
in Alton. Linder was elected to the legislature from Coles County 
in 1836, 1846, 1848 and 1850. He served as Attorney General of 
the State from February 4, 1837, to June 11, 1838. Linder de- 
serted the Democratic party for the Whigs in 1838, but returned 
to the Democrats when the rising tide of Republicanism engulfed 
the Whigs. He was a delegate to the Democratic national con- 
vention in 1860, representing the seventh congressional district, 
which included Coles County. Linder was active as a lawyer in 
eastern and southern Illinois, and was famous as a stump speaker 
and orator. Henry Clay Whitney, who as a young lawyer knew 
Linder in the eighteen-fifties, described him as "the most brilliant 
orator that ever lived in Illinois." 5 

Many years later Linder recalled his impression of Lincoln as a 
member of the legislature in the session which began in December 
1836. Lincoln, Linder wrote, "made a good many speeches in 
the legislature, mostly on local subjects. A close observer, how- 
ever, could not fail to see that the tall, sixfooter, with his homely 
logic, clothed in the language of the humbler classes, had the 
stuff in him to make a man of mark." 6 In a speech to the Flouse 
of Representatives in January 1837, Lincoln crossed swords with 
Linder. Lincoln was speaking on a resolution offered by Linder 
which proposed an inquiry into the management of the affairs of 
the State Bank. Lincoln remarked that it was "not without a 
considerable degree of apprehension that I venture to cross the 
track of the gentleman from Coles." Referring to alleged corrup- 
tion on the part of the State Bank Commissioners, Lincoln asked 
"if the Bank is likely to find it more difficult to bribe the com- 
mittee of seven, which we are about to appoint, than it may have 
found it to bribe the commissioners?" Here Linder insisted that 
Lincoln's remarks were out of order. The Chair ruled that 
Lincoln was not out of order. Linder appealed the ruling to the 
House, but then withdrew his appeal with the observation that 
he preferred to let Lincoln go on. He thought he would break his 
own neck. To this sally Lincoln replied that he "was not saying 

5 John M. Palmer (Editor) : The Bench and Bar of Illinois, vol. II, p. 656. 
Cited hereafter as Palmer; Linder, pp. 21, 35-37, 148, 395; Whitney, Circuit, 
p. 180. Whitney was Linder's junior by 22 years. 

6 Linder, p. 58. The year before, when he met Lincoln at Charleston, "Lin- 
coln did not make any marked impression upon me, or any other member of 
the bar." P. 37. 

Ficklin and Under 115 

that the gentleman from Coles could not be bribed, nor, on the 
other hand, will I say he could. In that particular I leave him 
where I found him." 7 

Such exchanges did not prevent the growth of friendship be- 
tween the two men. Some idea of the close personal relations 
between Lincoln and Linder is given in a story that is traditional 
in the Linder family. Usher F. Linder and Elisha Linder, who 
lived in western Coles County, were cousins. On one occasion, 
about two in the afternoon, Lincoln and Usher rode up to Elisha's 
house. We will let Mr. Clarence W. Bell, grandson of Elisha 
Linder, complete the story: 

Usher Linder was drunk. They dismounted from their horses and 
when they reached the house, Lincoln said: "Lish, we are going over to 
Shelbyville to plead some cases and Ursh has been drinking heavy and 
is so drunk we can't go any further. Help me sober him up." Grand- 
mother asked Lincoln if they had had any dinner. He replied, "No, 
Becky, we haven't eaten anything since breakfast." Grandmother killed 
a chicken and fried it for dinner while Grandfather gave Usher strong 
coffee to sober him up. He thought he had succeeded, so they sat down 
to dinner. Usher reached for the plate of chicken, .poured it all out on 
his own plate, and handed Lincoln the empty plate, saying, "Abe, have 
some chicken." Abe and my grandfather had to pour Ursh more strong 
coffee. After the meal they proceeded on their way to Shelbyville. 8 

Linder, in his Reminiscences, tells of an incident in Springfield 
during a political meeting held at the State House, when Lincoln, 
together with Edward D. Baker, protected him from possible 
physical assault. The incident probably took place during the 
campaign of 1844 when Clay opposed Polk for the presidency. 
While Linder was speaking "some ruffian in the galleries" flung 
at him "a gross personal insult, accompanied with a threat." Both 
Lincoln and Baker, "warm personal and political friends" of 
Linder, were present. Fearing that Linder might be attacked 
when he left the State House, they came upon the stand shortly 
before Linder finished speaking and stood by him. After the 
speech had been completed each took one of Linder s arms and 
walked with him from the State House to his hotel. Linder re- 
called that Lincoln said to him: 

Linder, Baker and I are apprehensive that you may be attacked by 
some of those ruffians who insulted you from the galleries, and we have 
come up to escort you to your hotel. We both think we can do a little 
fighting, so we want you to walk between us until we get you to your 
hotel; your quarrel is our quarrel, and that of the great Whig party of 
this nation, and your speech upon this occasion is the greatest one that 
has been made by any of us, for which we wish to honor, love and 
defend you. 

7 Lincoln and Linder had previously clashed (on December 21, 1836) on a 
minor point. Collected Works, vol. I, pp. 56-57, 62, 66-67. 

8 Statement prepared for the writer by Mr. Bell, October 25, 1949. 


Linder considered this "no ordinary compliment coming from 
Mr. Lincoln, for he was no flatterer." Guarded by his two friends 
and accompanied by many sympathisers, Linder reached his hotel 
unmolested. Linder considered this one of the proudest days of 
his life, "on account of the devoted friendship shown by Lincoln 
and Baker." 

Holland, in his life of Lincoln, gives this incident in a some- 
what different form. According to this version, a speech made by 
Linder was very offensive to some Democrats who "proposed to 
make a personal matter of it." When Linder spoke a second time 
"his friends feared for his safety," and Lincoln and Baker "took 
their places by his side, and, when he finished, conducted him to 
his hotel." 9 

Correspondence between Lincoln and Linder while Lincoln 
was in Congress in 1848, shows the close political tie between the 
two at the time, and also discloses that Linder, the former Demo- 
crat, was getting restless as he sensed that the northern Whigs 
were accepting the cooperation of the abolitionists. On February 
20, 1848, Lincoln wrote to Linder from Washington. Linder was 
a candidate for the Illinois legislature. 

U. F. Linder: In law it is good policy to never plead what you need 
not, lest you oblige yourself to prove what you can not. Reflect on this 
well before you proceed. The application I mean to make of this rule 
is, that you should simply go for Gen. Taylor; because by this, you can 
take some democrats and lose no whigs; but if you go also for Mr. Polk 
on the origin and mode of prossecuting the war, you will still take some 
democrats, but you will lose more whigs, so that in the sum of the 
opperation you will be the loser. This is at least my opinion; and if 
you will look around, I doubt, if you do not discover such to be the 
fact amongst your own neighbors. Further than this: By justifying 
Mr. Polk's mode of prossecuting the war, you put yourself in opposition 
to Gen. Taylor himself, for we all know he has declared for, and, in 
fact originated, the defensive line of policy. 

You know I mean this in kindness, and wish it to be confidential. 10 
Linder replied on March 15. He asked Lincoln three questions 
concerning Whig opposition to the Mexican War and Whig- 
abolitionist cooperation. He wanted to know if it would not be 
as easy to elect Taylor without opposing the war. Lincoln wrote 
again on March 22. Whig silence on the war was impossible, the 
Whigs "are compelled to speak and their only option is whether 

9 Under, pp. 248-250; Holland, p. 96. It is likely that Holland's account 
came from what Linder had told him and which he remembered imperfectly. 
Holland referred to the incident as having occurred during the "Clay cam- 
paign," or 1844. Lincoln was present at political meetings at Springfield in 
the 1844 campaign on March 2, May 22, June 12, and August 24. Pratt, 
1840-1846, pp. xxxi, 218, 230, 233, 243. Both Lincoln and Linder were Whig 
electors in 1844, having been chosen by the Whig Convention at Springfield 
on December 11 and 12, 1843. 

10 Collected Works, vol. I, p. 453. 

Ficklin and hinder 117 

they will, when they do speak, tell the truth, or tell a foul villain- 
ous, and bloody falsehood." As for "falling in company with 
abolitionists," Lincoln denied that the Whigs had accepted 
abolitionist doctrine. Abolitionist support of Harrison, the Whig 
candidate in 1840, had given the Whigs their "only national 
victory." 11 

The close professional relationship between Lincoln and 
Linder is shown by a letter from Lincoln to Linder, written from 
Springfield on March 2, 1853. 

The change of circuits prevents my attending the Edgar court this 
Spring, and perhaps generally hereafter. There is a little Ejectment 
case from Bloomfield, in which the name of Davidson figures . . . and 
for defending which I have been paid a little fee. Now I dislike to keep 
the money without doing the service; & I also hate to disgorge; and I 
therefore request of you to defend the case for me; Sc I will, in due 
time, do as much or more for you. Write me whether you can do it. 12 
How Lincoln was supposed to have repaid this obligation was 
later told by Linder and also by his daughter, Mrs. Rose Linder 
Wilkinson. Linder delivered the address of the occasion at the 
Lincoln Commemorative service held by the Chicago Bar Asso- 
ciation on April 17, 1865. Linder told how his son, in difficulty 
because of a shooting scrape, was aided by Lincoln. He said: 

I wrote to Mr. Lincoln. I was in a quarter of the country where I 
knew he was a tower of strength; where his name raised up friends; 
where his arguments at law had more power than the instructions of 
the Court. I feared, many of his political friends being united against 
my son, that his services and his talents might be enlisted against him. 
I wrote to him, giving him all the circumstances, telling him of my 
wife's grief and my own, and soliciting that he would come and assist 
me to defend my son; that I thought he had been employed against him. 
In his reply to Linder, Lincoln: 

Condoled with me and my wife in our misfortune, and assured us 

that, no matter what business he might be engaged in, he would come, 

and he was truly sorry that I had supposed that he would take part in 

the prosecution of the son of a friend of his. I had offered him a fee, 

and in that letter he also said he knew of no act of his life that would 

justify me in supposing that he would take money from me or any dear 

friends for assisting in the defence of the life of a child. 13 

The same incident also was told by Linders daughter Rose. 

Some of the details she mentions are at variance with Linder's 


My brother Dan, in the heat of a quarrel, shot a young man named 
Ben Boyle and was arrested. My father was seriously ill with inflam- 
matory rheumatism at the time, and could scarcely move hand or foot. 
He certainly could not defend Dan. I was his secretary, and I remember 
it was but a day or so after the shooting till letters of sympathy began 
to pour in. In the first bundle which I picked up there was a big letter, 

11 Collected Works, vol. I, pp. 457-458. 
^Collected Works, vol. II, p. 191. 

18 L. P. Brockett: The Life and Times of Abraham Lincoln (1865), pp. 
702-703. Cited hereafter as Brockett. 


the handwriting, on which I recognized as that of Mr. Lincoln. The 
letter was very sympathetic. 

"I know how you feel, Linder," it said. "I can understand your anger 
as a father, added to all the other sentiments. But may we not be in 
a measure to blame? We have talked about the defense of criminals 
before our children; about our success in defending them; have left the 
impression that the greater the crime, the greater the triumph of 
securing an acquittal. Dan knows your success as a criminal lawyer, 
and he depends on you, little knowing that of all cases you would be 
of least value in this." 

He concluded by offering his services, an offer which touched my 
father to tears. 

Mr. Lincoln tried to have Dan released on bail, but Ben Boyle's 
family and friends declared the wounded man would die, and feeling 
had grown so bitter that the judge would not grant any bail. So the 
case was changed to Marshall County, but as Ben finally recovered it 
was dismissed. 14 

This story of Lincoln coming to the aid of his friend Usher F. 
Linder when Dan Linder was in trouble was retold by Alonzo 
Rothschild in his book Honest Abe, A Study in Integrity, pub- 
lished in 1917. Rothschild blended together the accounts by 
Usher and Rose. Woldman, in his Lawyer Lincoln, retells the 
story, following Rothschild's version. 15 

The incident from which these various accounts are derived 
occurred at Paris, Illinois, in 1856. The Prairie Beacon of that 
city gives us some of the details. The issue for May 16, 1856, re- 
ported that "On Tuesday evening [May 13] eighteen year old 
Daniel Linder, son of lawyer Usher O. [F.] Linder, had a quarrel 
with his companion, John [not Benjamin] Boyle, outside the 
Augustus and Rudy store. Linder shot his friend in the hands, 
chest, and head. He dropped the gun and fled, but officials soon 
captured him and put him in jail." Young Linder was soon re- 
leased on a writ of habeas corpus, and a $5,000 bond was fur- 
nished. Fortunately for him, Boyle recovered. Hence the charge 
against him was not murder, but "assault with intent to inflict 
bodily injury." The Edgar County grand jury presented a true 
bill against Daniel Linder on October 15, 1856, and the case came 
to trial the same day. Daniel pleaded not guilty, and put up 
bond of $100, his father acting as his security. At the application 
of the defendant, the case was sent to Clark County on a change 
of venue. Five witnesses, including John Boyle, put up $50 bond 

14 A. K. McClure: Lincoln's Yarns and Stories (1901), pp. 263-264. The 
writer has been unable to trace the origin of this statement attributed to Mrs. 
Rose Linder Wilkinson. Apart from the differences from her father's account 
of the incident, Mrs. Wilkinson's statement contained other errors, as we 
shall show from the records. The person shot was John Boyle, not Benjamin. 
Dan Linder was admitted to bail and the change of venue was to Marshall in 
Clark County, not to Marshall County. 

15 Rothschild, pp. 141-142; Woldman, p. 101. 

Ficklin and Linder 119 

each for their appearance at the Clark County Circuit Court on 
October 27 next. 10 On October 17, 1856, the Prairie Beacon com 
mented on the case as follows: 

It will be recalled that young Daniel Linder was supposed to have 

gone to Central America after his shooting episode with John Boyle. 

Apparently this was hearsay, for his case has been heard this week 

before the Edgar County grand jury. He was charged with "assault with 

a deadly weapon" and released on a $100 bond. His father had charge 

of the case and disqualified some of the jurors because they read the 

Beacon, which he claimed, villified him and prejudiced his son's case. 

A reading of the newspaper does not sustain these charges. The case 

was transferred to another county. 17 

It is clear that Usher F. Linder, not Lincoln, was Daniel's 

lawyer in Paris. The writer was unable to locate the judge's 

docket for this period, which would have given the name of the 

defense attorney. The Beacon refers to Daniel's father, and no 

other lawyer. Lincoln was sufficiently prominent by the fall of 

1856 to have been mentioned by the Beacon if he had appeared 

in the case. 

The case came before the Clark County Circuit Court at 
Marshall on November 5, 1856, when the Clerk of the Court 
certified the charge as "assault with an intent to do a bodily in- 
jury." The case was continued until the next term of court. On 
June 9, 1857, when the case came up the state's attorney an- 
nounced that he would no longer prosecute the defendant. The 
judge's docket ("Bench Docket") for 1854-1859 lists the case 
(second day's causes, June Term 1857, Case No. 14) as nolled 
prossed and the defendant discharged. The attorneys for the 
defendant are given as Linder, Ficklin, and Bell. 18 The dates 
involved in this case would appear to preclude any participation 
by Lincoln. The case came before the court in Paris on October 
15, 1856. Angle places Lincoln at Clinton, Illinois, on October 
13, and at Belleville on October 18. The case first came up at 
Marshall on November 5, 1856. Lincoln was at Springfield on 
November 4. The final hearing at Marshall was on June 9, 1857. 
Lincoln was at Springfield on June 8, 9, and 10. 19 

It seems to be clear, therefore, that Lincoln did not assist in 
the defense of Daniel Linder in the case arising out of the shoot- 
ing of John Boyle at Paris in 1856. Both Usher Linder and his 
daughter appear to have been confused in the matter. Note, how- 

16 Edgar County Circuit Court (Paris, Illinois), Circuit Court Record, vol. 
IV, pp. 352, 354. 

17 From notes taken from the Beacon for the writer by Mrs. Avanella Jeffers 
of Paris, Illinois. 

18 Clark County Circuit Court (Marshall, Illinois), Circuit Court Record, 
vol. II, pp. 208, 287; Bench Docket 1854-1859, n.p. 

19 Angle, 1854-1861, pp. 146, 149, 180. 


ever, that while Usher reports that he asked Lincoln for help, 
and that Lincoln agreed to come to his assistance, he does not 
say in so many words that Lincoln took part in the case. An ex- 
planation may be that Lincoln offered to help in the defense of 
Dan Linder in a murder trial, but Boyle's recovery reduced the 
charge to assault. For this less serious charge, Lincoln's assistance 
was neither expected or needed. 

Linder was a warm supporter of Senator Douglas in 1858. It 
was this association which gave rise to his nickname, 'Tor God's 
Sake Linder." Linder tells the story in his Reminiscences (p. 79). 
During the campaign some of Lincoln's friends made the practice 
of following Douglas on his speaking trips, and attacking him in 
speeches after Douglas "would be in bed asleep, worn out by the 
fatigues of the day." Douglas telegraphed Linder to meet him at 
Freeport and accompany him on his speaking tour "to help fight 
off the hell-hounds," as he called them, that were howling on his 
path, and used this expression: 'Tor God's sake, Linder, come." 
A telegraph operator made the message public with the result 
that the Republican papers dubbed him thenceforth with the 
name "For God's Sake Linder," which title Linder wore "with 
great pride and distinction ever since." 

Linder must have been a fiery sort of man, well equipped to 
"fight off the hell-hounds" for Douglas. On April 12, 1859, in 
open court in Charleston, Linder assaulted with his fists a fellow 
lawyer, Elisha H. Starkweather. Two days later Starkweather 
made affidavit before Justice of the Peace Eli Wiley, praying that 
Linder be placed under bond to keep the peace. Starkweather 
alleged that in addition to threatening and assaulting him, Linder 
had taken to carrying a pistol, and Starkweather feared for his 
life. Linder promptly posted a $500 bond before Justice Wiley. 20 
This incident took place the year before Linder moved to Chi- 

The continued close friendship of the Lincoln and Linder 
families is shown by the gift of some dishes and tableware made 
by Mrs. Lincoln to Usher F. Linder for his wife when the Lincolns 
were making ready to move from Springfield to Washington. The 
gift included a moss-rose pattern china pitcher, a majolica pitcher, 
a large serving dish, a gravy boat, four small plates, a candlestick, 
and some table silver. 21 

20 Papers in lower vault of Circuit Clerk's office, box marked "1859." 
Starkweather died on December 1, 1859. Headstone 4 in "Old Cemetery," 

21 Sandburg, Collector, p. 209. 

Ficklin and Linder 121 

During the war Daniel Linder was again involved in Lincoln's 
relationships with his father. This time Lincoln was able to per- 
form a real service for the Linder family. Usher told of the 
incident in his Chicago eulogy of Lincoln in April 1865. His son 
Daniel had gone south before the war broke out, and 

By some means, he was enlisted in the service of the rebel army. My 
friends here know, as you judges who sit upon the bench know, that I 
called upon them to unite with me in adding your influence to mine 
to prevail upon President Lincoln to induce him to release my boy 
from prison. He was captured a year and a half ago. Mr. Lincoln did 
so without any hesitation, and he took the pains — it was the day before 
Christmas a year ago, and it made my home happy — to telegraph me 
of the fact. . . . He said to me "Your son has just left me with my 
order to the Secretary of War to administer the oath of allegiance. I 
send him home to you and his mother." 22 

In this instance, Linder's memory was trustworthy. On De- 
cember 22, 1863, Lincoln sent word to General Gilman Marston 
at Point Lookout, Maryland, "If you have a prisoner by the name 
of Linder — Daniel Linder, I think, and certainly the son of 
U. F. Linder of Illinois, please send him to me by an officer." 23 
Just what Lincoln said to the young Copperhead when he was 
brought before him is not recorded, but he probably made him 
regret his treason. The day after Christmas Lincoln sent young 
Linder home to his folks in Chicago and sent the wire which 
Usher- quoted, in substance, in his 1865 address. 24 Thus did 
Lincoln provide a belated "Merry Christmas" for the Linders. 

The release of Daniel Linder was linked by Lincoln with the 

release of the son of a Virginia friend of Attorney General Edward 

Bates. When Bates requested the parole of the son of his friend, 

Lincoln is reported to have said to him: 

Bates, I have an almost parallel case. The son of an old friend of 
mine in Illinois ran oft and joined the rebel army. The young fool has 
been captured, and is a prisoner of war, and his old, broken-hearted 
father has asked me to send him home, promising, of course, to keep 
him there. I have not seen my way clear to do it; but if you and I 
unite our influence with this administration, I believe we can manage 
it together and make two loyal fathers happy. Let us make them our 
prisoners. 25 

22 Brockett, p. 703. The Mattoon Gazette for February 28, 1862, in an 
editorial attacking Usher F. Linder for failing to support the war, referred to 
his son, Dan, who "has had the boldness to take up arms" in the "center of 

23 Collected Works, vol. VII, p. 87. 

24 The message was sent the day after Christmas, not the day before, as 
Usher Linder recalled in 1865. An endorsement by Lincoln to Stanton, also 
dated December 26, was placed on a telegram from General Marston reporting 
compliance with Lincoln's order. Lincoln directed Stanton to "administer the 
oath of allegiance to him, discharge him, and send him to his father." 
Collected Works, vol. VII, pp. 94-95. 

25 Hertz, vol. II, p. 862. 


The accuracy of this reported statement by Lincoln to Bates is 
doubtful, for Lincoln ordered young Linder brought from the 
prison camp on December 22, and the conversation with Bates 
took place two days later, as is shown by Bate's diary. Under 
date of December 24, 1863, Bates recorded: 

Edwin C. Claybrook, of 9 Reb Cavy. is a prisoner of war, at Point 

Lookout. He is a youth of 18 or 20 son of Col Claybrook of Northd Cy. 

[Northumberland County] Va. The Prest, being abt. to send for young 

Linder of Ills, at my instance, ordered up young Claybrook also, with 

the view, in both cases, to release them, if they will only accept the 

boon, on any reasonable terms. 

The Prest: is anxious to gratify Linder, the father, who is his old 

friend; and I am very desirous to make a New Year's gift of Claybrook, 

to his father and family. 26 

On the day of his talk with Bates, December 24, Lincoln ordered 
General Marston, "If you send Linder to me as directed a day 
or two ago, also send Edwin C. Claybrook, of 9th Virginia rebel 
cavalry." 27 

Near the end of March 1864, Lincoln received an eloquent and 
touching letter from his old friend Linder in Chicago. It was an 
application for an appointment, couched in unusual language 
for that purpose. Linder wrote: 

My Dear Sir: In the revolutions of the wheel of fortune I have often 
been at the top — and as often at the bottom— In other words I have 
been, now, four years at this place, and notwithstanding I have exerted 
a dilligence and prudence, hardly common to me, no prosperous wind 
has yet filled my sail — but the whole bag full have steadily set against 
me. I have never before asked an office of any president, or any execu- 
tive of a state — but taking into consideration the wants of myself and 
family— If the government of the U. S. has anything to do which I am 
capable of performing — you may consider me as an humble appli- 
cant — I am seeking no sinecure; my health is good thank God — and 
I am only 55 years old the 20th inst. 

I am constrained to believe friend Lincoln that you have ever cher- 
ished the kindest feelings for me as I know I have for you and although 
we have been often thrown in opposition to each other I think there 
has never been anything said by either that has left a pang behind— 

If there had been, you, I know are too magnanimous to remember it 
now, considering the vast distance which fame fortune and distinction 
have made between us, and I make these remarks simply to place myself 
outside of the category of your personal enemies — If you should think 
me loyal, competent and worthy — and upon these considerations offer 
me a place where I can be of service to the country, I will accept it 
however humble or insignificant it may be — and bring to the discharge 
of the duties thereof all the zeal and talents I have, be they great or 
small — Now — I suppose you have thousands of just such letters as 
these written to you every day, well this is the first of the kind I have 
written and I assure you, I shall not trouble you with another — I don't 
ask you to prepare a feather bed for me for I had just as soon have a 
hard bed as a soft one. A place in the army — in the distant territories, 

26 Howard K. Beale (editor) : The Diary of Edward Bates, 1859-1866, pp. 

^Collected Works, vol. VII, p. 91. 

Ficklin and hinder 123 

indeed anything that needs work and thinking I am ready and anxious 
to obtain — and for which I shall feel ever grateful. Knowing the 
importance of time with you I regret that my necessities have made it 
necessary to inflict upon you so long a letter — And let me assure you 
that whether my application is considered favorably or unfavorably — I 
shall never cease to pray God to crown your administration with com- 
plete success — for it is my sincere wish that the brightest page of your 
country's history, may be that which records your struggles and tri- 
umphs over treason and oppression — 1 wish you in conclusion to pardon 
me if I have presumed too much upon old friendship and acquaint- 
ance — and act in obedience to your own honest instincts which I have 
trusted and am still willing to trust. 

Your friend, U. F. Linder 28 

Despite this eloquent plea, Linder did not get a Federal ap- 
pointment. This did not embitter him, however, for his refer- 
ences to Lincoln in his reminiscences are sympathetic without 
exception. Even more indicative of Linder's lack of resentment 
was his address to the Chicago bar association at a meeting held 
on April 17, 1865, to express the feelings of the members follow- 
ing Lincoln's death. John M. Palmer, who was present, has 
recorded that Linder's speech was "one of the most thrilling and 
remarkable" he had ever listened to. Linder's references to "the 
great kindnesses that he had at various times received from Mr. 
Lincoln, were very interesting." The speech "abounded in pathos 
and was a masterpiece of eloquence." No other speech of the 
occasion compared with it. 29 This was not the speech of an em- 
bittered and disappointed office seeker. 

Linder expressed his opinion of Lincoln as a lawyer in a letter 
to Joseph Gillespie written from Chicago on August 8, 1867. 
Gillespie, also, had known Lincoln well. Linder wrote: 

But you speak of our mutual friend Lincoln — What a strange and 
marvelous career he had, he was a man of singular [talents?], but a 
large minded man — I think his greatest fort was, as a lawyer — and I 
don't know whether he was strongest before the judge or the jury. 
I certainly never liked to have him against me. 

How very many of our old acquaintances are dead and gone and the 
question occurs shall we ever see them again, in the language of Job. 
"If a man dies shall he live again." I reckon Lincoln would say if here 
"A living dog is better than a dead lion." He was, as you say wise, and 
O Lord wasn't he funny? 30 

Usher Linder was a man of great natural ability. He was a 

skillful lawyer, an effective debater, and a notable orator. He was 

a member of the legislature at age 26, and attorney-general of the 

state before he was 28. This auspicious beginning did not prove 

28 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 31895. 

20 Palmer, vol. II, p. 658. Brockett, pp. 701-703, gives excerpts from this 
address, from which we have quoted the incidents involving Daniel Linder. 

^Letter, Usher F. Linder to Joseph Gillespie, August 8, 1867. In Auto- 
graph letters, vol. 14, pp. 139-142, Manuscript Division, Chicago Historical 
Society Library. 


to be the start of a brilliant political career for two reasons. 
Linder shifted from the dominant Democratic party to the less 
popular Whigs in 1838, and when the Democrats began to yield 
first place in Illinois to the rising Republican party Linder went 
back to the Democrats rather than climb on the Republican 
bandwagon with most of the Whigs. The other reason was per- 
sonal. Usher Linder drank to excess. This hurt him profession- 
ally as well as politically. He left Charleston in 1860, within a 
year after his brawl with Starkweather which probably was due 
to drink, in an effort to make a new start in Chicago. His letter 
to Lincoln four years later shows that he had made little material 
progress by then at his new location. The years that followed 
evidently brought little improvement in his welfare. Orville H. 
Browning gives us a glimpse of Linder two years before his death. 
Browning recorded in his diary for April 23, 1874, "Met U. F. 
Linder on the street today. Had not seen him for several years. 
He looks old and broken, and was poorly and meagerly dressed 
and I suspect is poor and needy." 31 

In an effort to provide an income for his family, Linder spent 
the last two years of his life writing his Reminiscences. The book 
was published in 1879, nearly three years after his death and con- 
tained an introduction written by his friend Joseph Gillespie. 

It probably had a very limited sale. At any rate it is a scarce 
item today. 

The Diary of Orville Hickman Browning, vol. II, p. 381. 

Was Lincoln a Swedenborgian? 

CIRCUIT JUDGE JUSTIN HARLAN of Marshall, who pre- 
sided over the court at Charleston from 1849 to 1856, was a 
brother-in-law of Mrs. Nancy Chenoweth Sargent, the wife of 
Stephen Sargent of Hutton Township, Coles County. Lincoln 
knew the Sargents well and visited at their home more than 
once. They lived on the Old York-Charleston trail which passed 
through Marshall, and along which Lincoln probably traveled 
on more than one occasion. Nancy Chenoweth's first husband 
(1822) was Jacob Harlan, elder brother of Justin. Jacob died in 
1836; and the widow married Stephen Sargent in 1842. 

Many years later, a granddaughter of Mrs. Sargent said that 
Abraham Lincoln in the late 1850's was baptized in the Sweden- 
borgian "New Church" at the Sargent home. Mrs. Floret Harlan 
Hendrickson was the daughter of Burns Harlan, a son of Mrs. 
Sargent by her first marriage. She was raised in the home of her 
grandmother, a devout Swedenborgian, who converted her hus- 
band to that faith. The Sargent home became a Swedenborgian 
center in the community. Lacking a church building, services 
were held at the Sargent home. A "New Church Society" was 
formed which continued in existence for over forty years or until 
about 1890, under the leadership of Stephen Sargent and after 
his death in 1878, under that of his son John S. Sargent. 1 

Mrs. Hendrickson was an active Swedenborgian throughout a 
long life. Born in 1854, she died in California in 1946. Near the 
close of her life, Mrs. Hendrickson told her pastor, the Rev. Andre 
Diaconoff of Los Angeles, of Lincoln's contact with Sweden- 
borgian doctrines at the Sargent home. She recalled that her 
grandparents had given Lincoln copies of several of Swedenborg's 
writings when he visited at their home. Her great-uncle, John S. 
Sargent, told Mrs. Hendrickson (in later years she said) that on 
one occasion Lincoln was present at the Sargent home when a 

1 Letters, Samuel S. Sargent to the writer, November 12, 17, 1951. 



baptismal service was held, and that he received the New Church 
baptism. 2 

Mr. Samuel S. Sargent, a son of John S. Sargent, at an early age 
became interested in local and family history. He questioned old 
residents of the neighborhood who had attended the New Church 
meetings at the Sargent home. Two of those to whom he talked, 
C. P. Brandenburg (who died in 1914) and Allen Parker (who 
died at a later date) told Mr. Sargent that Lincoln had attended 
a meeting or meetings of the New Church Society at the Sargents, 
and had shown an interest in New Church teachings. Samuel S. 
Sargent's father, John S. Sargent, told him that Lincoln had 
borrowed some Swedenborg books from Stephen Sargent, and 
had returned them. "He said that after Lincoln had become 
President that the family had tried to figure out which books 
they had loaned him, to look for any writing by Abe, but none 
could be found." 

Mr. Sargent also was told by Mrs. Hendrickson, his second 
cousin, that Lincoln was a reader of Swedenborg's writings, and 
furthermore that he had been baptized at one of the early meet- 
ings of the New Church Society at the Sargent home. On the 
other hand, Mr. Sargent's sister (Mrs. Opal S. Hodge of Charles- 
ton, born in 1875) told him that she had never in her life heard 
anything about Lincoln having been interested in the New 
Church at Grandfather Sargent's or of his having any interest 
in any way with that denomination; that neither her grand- 
mother nor her father had ever said anything about it in her 
hearing; and she did not believe there was anything to the 
Lincoln story. Mrs. Hodge was fifteen years old when her grand- 
mother died. 3 

Mrs. Floret Hendrickson thus appears to be the source of the 
story that Lincoln was baptized as a Swedenborgian. She at- 
tributed her knowledge of this incident to John S. Sargent when 
talking to her pastor, but not when talking to Mr. Sargent's son 
Samuel S. Sargent. Nor did John S. Sargent ever tell his son 
that Lincoln was baptized. 

It is not unlikely that Lincoln borrowed some religious books 
from Stephen Sargent, and also read them carefully. Lincoln 
was intellectually inquisitive, and had an open mind on the sub- 

2 Article by Rev. Andre DiaconofT in Nexu Church Messenger of March 4, 
1942, quoted in Raymond Pitcairn: "Abraham Lincoln and the New Church," 
a typed copy of which was sent to the writer by Mr. Leslie Marshall of the 
Swedenborg Fellowship, Paterson, N.J., November 5, 1951. 

3 Letters, Samuel S. Sargent to the writer, November 12, 17, 1951. 

Was Lincoln a Swedenborgianf 127 

ject of religion. These same characteristics also would lead him 
to listen attentively to the exposition of Swedenborgian doc- 
trines by his friend and host, Stephen Sargent, when visiting at his 
home. If a church service was conducted while Lincoln was pres- 
ent, we can be certain that he did not walk out. He was innately 
a courteous man, and would not have pained his host by a hostile 
attitude. But open mindedness and courtesy would not have 
caused Lincoln to accept the sacrament of baptism. And if Lin- 
coln had accepted the doctrines of the New Church we can be 
certain that he would have freely proclaimed his religious affilia- 
tion to his family and friends. Of this there is no evidence. The 
baptism story is wrong. Perhaps it represented wishful thinking 
by New Church adherents who knew that Lincoln had shown an 
interest in their doctrines. 

The Death, of Thomas Lincoln, 1851 

THOMAS LINCOLN died at his Goosenest Prairie home on Jan- 
uary 17, 1851, age 73 years and 11 days. 1 The cause of his death 
is reported to have been kidney trouble. 2 He had been ailing for 
some time, and a year and a half before, on May 25, 1849, John D. 
Johnston had written to Abraham Lincoln that his father was 
"yet alive and that is all," and urged him to come to see the 
old man before he died. Johnston's letter, dated "friday morning 
Char— May 25 1849" is as follows: 
Dear Brother 

I hast to inform you That father is yet a Live & that is all & he Craves 
to See you all the time & he wonts you to Come if you ar able to git 
hure, for you are his only Child that is of his own flush & blood 8c it is 
nothing more than natere for him to crave to See you, he says he has all 
most Despared of Seeing you, & he wonts you to prepare to meet him in 
the unknown world, or in heven, for he thinks that ower Savour Savour 
has a crown of glory, prepared for him I wright this with a bursting 
hart, I Came to town for the Docttor, & I won you to make an effort 
Come, if you are able to get hure, & he wonts me to tell your wife that 
he Loves hure & wants hur to prepare to meet him at ower Savours 
feet, we are all well, your Brother in hast 

J. D. Johnston 3 
At about the same time that Johnston wrote he prevailed upon 
Augustus H. Chapman to write to Lincoln also. Chapman was 
the husband of Harriet, daughter of Dennis Hanks. Chapman's 
letter, was dated Charleston, May 24, 1849, but more likely was 
written on the 25th for in a letter dated May 28th (Monday), 
Chapman refers to having written to Lincoln on "Friday last." 
It is probable that when Johnston came into town on the 25th for 
the doctor, he also spoke to Chapman. Chapman's first letter 
was as follows: 

Mr. Lincoln — 

Sir — at the special request of J. D. Johnsin I write you to inform 
you of the very Severe illness of your Father, he was atacken with a 
lesion of the Heart Some time Since & for the last four days Has been 
getting much Worse & at this time He is very Low indeed. He is very 

1 Collected Works, vol. II, pp. 94-95. Thomas Lincoln was born on January 6, 

2 Herndon, p. 60. 

3 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 340. Also in Mearns, vol. I, p. 179. 


The Death of Thomas Lincoln, 1851 129 

anxious to See you before he dies & I am told that His Cries for you 
for the last few days are truly Heart-Rendering. He wished you to 
come & see him instontly if you possibly can. If you are fearfull of 
Leaving your family on account of the Children & can bring them 
With you we would be very Glad for you to bring them with you. 
the Health of our place is excelent & Harriett & I would be very glad 
to Have [you] bring them with you as we are very comfortably fixed 
& will do all we can to render you stay agreeable. Yours in great Haste 

A. H. Chapman 
You need Have no fears of your Father Suffering for any thing He may 
need as Harriett & I will see that He Has everything He may need. 

A. H. C. 4 

Three or four days later Chapman wrote to Lincoln again, to 
report that his father's condition was not as serious as had been 

Charleston, Ills. May 28th, 1849 [Monday] 
Mr. Lincoln — 

Sir on Friday last I wrote you at the request of J. D. Johnson which 
I suppose Has given you Considerable unnecessary trouble on account 
of your Father. I was fearful at the time I wrote to you that I was 
giving you considerable unnecessary uneasiness & So told Johnson, but 
he said that it was not So. I wished him to wait until Allison returned 
from your Fathers but he would not consent on the grounds that if He 
did not Send you a Letter then that he would not Have the Oppor- 
tunity of writing until the present mail. So I wrote you at his Earnest 
Solicitation & He had the Letter Mailed instontly. I now Have the 
pleasure of informing you that your Father is not only out of all 
Danger but that he is not afflicted with a Disease of the Heart as Dr. 
Allison had Supposed all along but that his illness arose from an un- 
usual amount of matter being confined in His Lungs which occasioned 
the Oppression of the Heart & let Allison to Suppose this Disease was 
one of the Heart — Yesterday & today He has raised a Large amount 
of matter or Fleghm from Lungs & is almost entirely Releaved & will 
doubtless be well in a Short time. I hope you will receave this before 
you get off for this place if you are intending to come here as I would 
be very sorry indeed for my Last Letter to cause you to Leave any im- 
portant business that you Might have on Hands & that required your 
imediate attention. I hope you will forgive me for writing you as I 
did without knowing what I was about & promise for the future to be 
more careful Harriett send Her love to you all. 

Respectfully yours 

A. H. Chapman 5 

The letters from Johnston and Chapman resulted in Lincoln 
going to Coles County to see his father. He had returned to 
Springfield on March 31, following the adjournment of Congress. 
At this time Lincoln was an active candidate for appointment 
as Commissioner of the General Land Office. A Washington trip 
seemed desirable to advance his candidacy. Lincoln returned 
from Coles County on June 2, and left for Washington on June 

4 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 337. Also in Mearns, vol. I, pp. 

5 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 342. Also in Mearns, vol. I, p. 180. 


10, arriving about June 17. 6 The day that Lincoln left Spring- 
field for Coles County has not been fixed, but it is likely that he 
left before Chapman's letter of May 28 reached him. 

Lincoln did not get the Land Office appointment, which went 
to Justin Butterfield of Chicago on June 21, while Lincoln was 
in Washington. Lincoln's unpopular stand as a congressman in 
opposition to the Mexican War had decreased his political in- 
fluence, and probably was the major factor in his failure to 
secure the appointment. His hurried trip to Coles County to see 
his ailing father, when his presence in Washington to press his 
application in person might have been helpful, may be con- 
sidered another factor. But note that he delayed a week after 
his return to Springfield before leaving for Washington. It is 
interesting to speculate on the effect that four years in Washing- 
ton as a "bureaucrat" might have had on Lincoln's subsequent 

During the winter of 1850-1851, Thomas Lincoln grew worse, 
and as the approaching end became more and more obvious, 
Johnston wrote to his stepbrother Abraham twice, without re- 
ceiving a reply. Dennis Hanks' daughter Harriet Chapman then 
wrote to him. After receiving her letter Lincoln replied to 
Johnston on January 12, 1851, five days before his father's death. 

Dear Brother: 

On the day before yesterday I received a letter from Harriett, written 
at Greenup. She says she has just returned from your house; and that 
Father is very low, and will hardly recover. She also says you have 
written me two letters; and that although you do not expect me to 
come now, you wonder that I do not write. I received both your letters, 
and although I have not answered them, it is not because I have for- 
gotten them, or been uninterested about them — but because it 
appeared to me I could write nothing which could do any good. You 
already know that I desire that neither Father or Mother shall be in 
want of any comfort either in health or sickness while they live; and 
I feel sure you have not failed to use my name, if necessary, to procure 
a doctor, or any thing else for Father in his present sickness. My busi- 
ness is such that I could hardly leave home now, if it were not, as it is, 
that my own wife is sick-abed. (It is a case of baby-sickness, and I 
suppose is not dangerous.) I sincerely hope Father may yet recover 
his health; but at all events tell him to call upon, and confide in, our 
great, and good, and merciful Maker; who will not turn away from 
him in any extremity. He notes the fall of a sparrow, and numbers 
the hairs of our heads; and He will not forget the dying man, who puts 
his trust in Him. Say to him that if we could meet now, it is doubtful 
whether it would not be more painful than pleasant; but that if it be 
his lot to go now, he will soon have a joyous meeting with many loved 

On June 2 A. G. Henry wrote to Joseph Gillespie that Lincoln's presence 
in Washington was necessary if he expected to get the Land Office appoint- 
ment, and that Lincoln would "go the moment he gets home he is now in 
Coles but is looked for tonight." Thomas, 1847-1853, pp. 127, 129-130. 

The Death of Thomas Lincoln, 1851 131 

ones gone before; and where the rest of us, through the help of God, 
hope ere-long to join them. 

Write me again when you receive this. Affectionately 

A. Lincoln 7 

It is possible that Lincoln underestimated the seriousness of 
Thomas' illness. A year and a half before, as we have seen, 
Johnston had written to him in a most urgent manner, and his 
father had recovered. However, his reference to "the dying man" 
who puts his trust in God would seem to preclude that notion. 
The religious exhortation in the letter is the sort of sentiment 
in which the pious Thomas would take comfort. Benjamin P. 
Thomas describes this letter as having "an unconvincing tone." 
Thomas feels that Abraham "had no real affection for his father 
and could not dissimulate about it." 8 

Did Abraham Lincoln have "no real affection" for his father? 
It is clear that they had few of the common interests that form 
the basis for a comradely relationship. None of the descriptions 
of the life of the Lincolns in Indiana, where Abraham spent his 
teens, show Thomas and Abraham hunting or fishing together, 
engaging in friendly wood chopping contests, or other backwoods 
sports. As a youth Abraham developed interests that his father 
did not share. As he grew older he became increasingly aware 
of Thomas' more restricted intellectual horizon. Abraham soon 
went beyond his father's meagre formal education. This does not 
mean that they were antagonistic. Abraham never defied his 
father, as far as we know. Dennis Hanks told Herndon that 
Thomas loved his son, but he couldn't tell whether or not the 
affection was returned. Thomas Lincoln was a kindly man, as 
was his son. The writer concludes that the father and son rela- 
tionship, while not particularly congenial, was a normal one. 

There is one account of Thomas' last illness that reports 

Abraham's presence at his father's bedside shortly before his 

death. The LeBaron or 1879 history of Coles County states: 

Abraham Lincoln had come to see him [Thomas Lincoln] in re- 
sponse to his wish through a letter from Mr. A. H. Chapman, and spent 
some time with him. He left word to send for him in case the disease 
took a malignant form. A severe attack soon followed his departure, 
proving fatal, and before Abe could be notified his father was gone. 9 

This statement is contradicted by the letter from Lincoln to 

7 Collected Works, vol. II, pp. 96-97. It was written from Springfield. The 
mention of Mrs. Lincoln being "sick-abed" with "baby-sickness" is a reference 
to the birth, on December 21, 1850, of William Wallace Lincoln. The original 
letter is damaged on one edge. Missing words have been taken from Nicolay 
and Hay. 

8 Thomas, Lincoln, p. 134. 
LeBaron, p. 422. 


Johnston. Could this account have had its basis in a visit by 
Lincoln to Charleston in the fall of 1850 during the October 
term of court, after his father had become ill, but before the 
gravity of the illness had become apparent? The October term 
was from October 7 to October 11. Lincoln was in Mt. Pulaski 
and Clinton, October 7-12. Hence he did not attend the October 
1850 term of the Coles County Circuit Court. From September 
18, 1850, to January 17, 1851, the date of his father's death, 
there are only two periods when Lincoln's whereabouts have not 
been established for periods of three days or more in succession. 
These were November 7-13, and December 29- January 5. Is it 
possible that Lincoln visited his father at either of these times? 
The December-January period is ruled out by Lincoln's reference 
to his wife's illness in his January 12 letter to Johnston, as well 
as by the implication of that letter that he had not seen his 
father recently. On November 14 Lincoln was in Decatur. He 
might have been in Coles County before reaching Decatur, pos- 
sibly for the week-end of November 9 and 10, prior to attending 
the Moultrie County Circuit Court at Sullivan, which opened on 
November 11. If Abraham Lincoln saw his father within a few 
months of Thomas' death on January 17, 1851, it probably was 
about November 10. It is more likely, however, that Lincoln did 
not visit Coles County during the fall or winter of 1850-1851. 10 

During his last illness, Thomas Lincoln was visited frequently 
by a neighbor, Mrs. Jane Price Fury, who read the Bible to him. 
As Mrs. Fury's daughter, Mrs. Joseph R. Bean, told William 
E. Barton in 1922, "He could read the Bible himself, and liked 
to do it, but he was old and weak and his sight was bad and he 
liked to have mother read the Bible." 11 

Thomas Lincoln was buried in the Shiloh or Gordon cemetery 
a mile and a half west of his home, where his wife was to join him 
eighteen years later. 12 The Reverend Thomas Goodman of 
Charleston, who served the Shiloh church as well as other rural 

10 Circuit Court Record, vol. II, pp. 304, 326; Thomas, 1847-1853, pp. 198, 
202-203, 210-211. 

11 Barton Papers, University of Chicago Library, scrapbook "Thomas Lin- 
coln." Mrs. Bean was born in 1841. Mrs. Sarah Lincoln, it will be recalled, 
was unable to read or write. 

12 Thomas Lincoln left no will, and the Coles County probate records have 
no record of the appointment of an administrator. The Gordon cemetery was 
on land owned by Benjamin Summer. On December 3, 1852, he sold 80 acres, 
including the cemetery location, to Isaac W. Rodgers, who deeded \\/ 2 acres 
comprising the cemetery to the "Trustees of the Gordon Graveyard," on 
March 12, 1866. Land Entry Book and Coles County Abstract Office records. 
Rodgers sold y 2 acre to the Trustees and donated one acre. Statement to the 
writer by I. W. Baker, grandson of Isaac W. Rodgers, June 11, 1952. 

The Death of Thomas Lincoln, 1851 133 

churches, preached the funeral sermon for Thomas Lincoln. As 
there was no Baptist church nearby, the Lincolns attended serv- 
ices conducted by preacher Goodman of the Disciples of Christ. 
The service was held in the Lincoln cabin, with the preacher 
standing in the open door, the women and children inside, and 
the men standing outside. 13 

Mrs. Bean, about ten years old at the time, lived half a mile 
from the Lincoln cabin. She was at home at the time of the 
funeral, she told Dr. Barton, but she could hear the funeral 
sermon for preacher Goodman was "a great man to 'holler'." 14 

Thirty-six years after Thomas' death, Mr. Goodman wrote of 
him that "In his case I could not say aught but good. . . . He was 
a consistent member through life of the Church of my choice — 
the Christian Church or the Church of Christ— and was, as far 
as I know — and I was a very intimate friend — illiterate, yet 
always truthful, conscientious and religious." 15 

Abraham Lincoln probably visited his stepmother at the 
Goosenest Prairie cabin within a few months of his father's death. 
The family record page from Thomas Lincoln's family Bible 
contains entries in Abraham's hand, the last dated March 5, 1851. 
The first days after that date on which it is likely that Abraham 
was in Coles County and made these entries were Saturday and 
Sunday, May 17 and 18, 1851. Lincoln attended the Edgar 
County Circuit Court at Paris on Friday, May 16, and he was 
present in Shelby ville on Wednesday, May 21. The Shelby County 
Circuit Court had convened on Monday, May 19. 16 It was 
Lincoln's practice to stop over at Charleston between the ses- 
sions of the Edgar and Shelby courts. He very likely spent the 
week-end of May 17-18 at Charleston and at the Goosenest Prairie 
home of his stepmother. 

Tradition has it that after Thomas' death his widow stayed for 
two years with John Sawyer, and helped care for his children. 17 
Mrs. Lincoln then returned to Goosenest Prairie and made her 
home with the John J. Hall family. Hall had acquired 80 acres 
of the Lincoln farm from John D. Johnston in November 1851. 

13 Barton, Lineage, pp. 83-85. 

14 barton Papers, University of Chicago Library. 

15 Barton, Paternity, p. 271. Mr. Goodman was wrong on two counts: 
Thomas Lincoln was not illiterate, and he was a Baptist during most of his 

16 Thomas, 1847-1853, pp. 229-230. 

17 Cavins, p. 83. The probability that Abraham Lincoln was a visitor at the 
Goosenest Prairie cabin in May 1851, suggests that Mrs. Lincoln did not leave 
the cabin until after that date. 


Mrs. Lincoln lived out the rest of her life in the same cabin that 
had been home to her and her husband, except when advancing 
age led her to seek shelter in the more substantial houses of other 
relatives, especially in the winter months. 

Thomas Lincoln's grave remained unmarked for many years. 
When Abraham Lincoln visited Charleston and Farmington on 
Thursday, January 31, 1861, before leaving for Washington, he 
went to his father's grave. The accounts of this visit to Shiloh 
cemetery vary in details. Mrs. Susan D. Baker, daughter of Isaac 
Rodgers (1810-1870) who lived in the neighborhood of the ceme- 
tery, was almost ten years old in January 1861. Many years later 
Mrs. Baker recalled that Lincoln 

came to my father's in February [January 31] 1861, before he was 
inaugurated, and asked my father to go with him to his father's grave. 
They went over to the old cementery where Lincoln stood by his 
father's grave and wept, saying the country was approaching a critical 
time and that he never expected to get back here again — and never 
did. 18 

This account does not mention the presence of any person other 

than Rodgers with Lincoln. Other accounts make it clear that 

A. H. Chapman, husband of Dennis Hanks' daughter Harriet, and 

a close personal friend of Lincoln, accompanied him to the 


There is a tradition that on the occasion of his visit to his 
father's grave, Lincoln placed at the grave a marker, on which 
he had cut the initials "T. L." John J. Hall told George E. 
Mason, in an interview which took place about 1906, the story 
of Lincoln's last visit as the story was preserved in the Hall family. 
After arriving at the Hall cabin at Goosenest Prairie, Mr. Hall 
recalled that: 

Before noon Uncle Abe told me to hitch up; that he wanted to go 
over to the graveyard. Just before we started he said: "John, have you 
any good, solid joists around here?" I said yes, and got him some 
white oak timbers about three inches wide and two inches thick. He 
took one and got the saw and ax and made two grave markers — one 
for the head and the other for the foot. He then took his knife and 
cut in the headboard the initials "T. L." 

We drove over to the graveyard and he cleared up the grave and 
drove the posts at the head and foot. Those markers were stolen after 
he was assassinated, and from that time until the present shaft was 

18 Quoted in Supplement to Lerna Weekly Eagle, February 1928 (vol. 
XXXIX) . Copy in possession of the writer. Mrs. Baker was born on February 
7, 1851. Mr. George Rodgers, great-grandson of Isaac Rodgers, has amassed 
a wealth of material on Lincoln associations with Coles County and especially 
the Pleasant Grove Township region, which material he graciously made 
freely available to the writer. Mr. Rodgers resides a short distance east of the 
Shiloh cemetery. 

The Death of Thomas Lincoln, 1851 135 

put up the grave was unmarked and Grandmother's grave has never 
been marked at all. 19 
The story of Lincoln putting a board at his father's grave also 

was told by John J. Hall to A. A. Graham, a member of the 

Chicago Historical Society, who visited Goosenest Prairie in 1879. 

Graham reported his visit to A. D. Hagar, secretary of the 

society, as follows: 

I went to the home of Lincoln's parents in this county on last Thurs- 
day. I also visited the little churchyard where their bodies now lie. 
I find their home an old double cabin, now much worn and inhabited 
by a Mr. Hall and family, who are, I judge, in poor circumstances. . . . 
I was shown the old bureau they brought from Ky in 1811 [1819], still 
in good order. It cost originally $40, they told me, and was, in its day, 
quite a grand affair. I was also shown the old family bible, now well 
worn. The leaf containing the family record had been stolen out, so 
Mr. Hall says, but he had taken the precaution to copy it in an old 
book. [I] made a copy of that, which I enclose you. . . . When Abe 
used to come here, it was his custom to fill a buggy with provisions 
and go down and visit his parents a day or two. After he was elected 
president, he came down, visited his father's grave, and with his own 
hands cut the letters T. L. in a small walnut board and placed it at 
the head of the grave. I was told that board was "kicking around in 
the grass," having rotted from its connections with the ground. Shame! 
I thought, and so said. I went to the churchyard, with three gentlemen 
living near to find it, telling them I would send it to you for preserva- 
tion. We could not find it, and inquiry developed the fact that it had 
been stolen some time ago, and was, — no one knew where. 20 
Augustus H. Chapman, who later stated that he accompanied 

Lincoln to his father's grave, denied that Lincoln placed a 

wooden marker at the grave. The account in LeBaron's 1879 

county history says that 

Another rumour is prevalent in the community where Thomas 
Lincoln died. It is supposed that when the President visited the grave 
... he cut the letters "T. L." on a walnut board and drove it into the 
ground at the head of the grave. This the writer of these pages en- 
deavored to find, but could not. Mr. Chapman says he did not cut the 
letters and place the board at the grave as represented. He was with 
him all the time and he says no such thing happened. 

This account of Lincoln's 1861 visit also tells the story of Lincoln's 

plans for a tombstone for his father's grave. 

... he visited the grave of his father in company with A. H. Chapman 
and John Hall. . . . W T hen Mr. Lincoln returned to Charleston he asked 
one of the younger members of the [Dennis] Hanks family to find out 
the probable cost of the tombstone for his father's grave. During the 
conversation on the subject Mr. Lincoln asked Mr. Chapman what he 
thought the expense would be. Mr. Chapman answered not less than 

19 Mason's interview 7 with Hall in undated clipping, about 1906, in scrap- 
book belonging to Mrs. Walton Alexander of Charleston, Illinois. The same 
story has been told by George B. Balch, who lived in the Goosenest Prairie 
neighborhood. Browne, pp. 21-22. Hall was 77 years old in 1906. In 1891 
Hall had given Mrs. Gridley a similar account. Gridley, pp. 276-277. 

20 Letter, A. A. Graham to A. D. Hagar, Charleston, 111., March 3, 1879. 
Autograph Letters, vol. 24, pp. 219, 220, Manuscript Division, Chicago His- 
torical Society. 


$40 nor more than $60 he thought. "Well," said the President, "see 
what it will cost and let me know at Washington, and I will send you 
an inscription I want put on." The war came and he could not attend 
to it. It has been erroneously supposed that he left money and it was 
not appropriately used. This, Mr. Chapman says, is untrue, and that 
the only arrangements made was the one already given. Further proof 
is given in a letter from Mrs. Lincoln after her husband's untimely 
death, wherein she refers to the thought often expressed by the Presi- 
dent that as soon as his term of office expired, he would return here 
and see to the erection of the monument. 21 
Chapman's own account of the tombstone incident was written 
to Herndon on October 8, 1865. After greeting his stepmother at 
her daughter's home in Farmington, Chapman and Lincoln pro- 
ceeded to John J. Hall's cabin at Goosenest Prairie. From there 
they went to the grave of Thomas Lincoln. While at the ceme- 
tery Lincoln told Chapman that 

he intended to have the grave enclosed and suitable tombstones erected 

over his father's grave and requested me to ascertain what the cost 

would be and he would furnish Dennis Hanks the money to have it 

done. Said he would furnish an inscription for the tombstone as he 

wished inscribed on it. Said he would do it as soon as he got time for 

me then to see the marble dealer and write him the cost and he would 

furnish Dennis the money to have it all done just as he wished. . . . 

He never furnished me the inscription for his father's tombstone and 

none has ever been erected on his grave. 22 

Graham, on his 1879 visit, was told the story that Lincoln had 

left money for a grave marker, which had been squandered. 

Graham reported: 

... it is generally believed he [Lincoln] left a sum of money here 
with some one to build a small monument. The money was squandered, 
and no monument is yet built. This should not be so. He did certainly 
make arrangements for its erection. Whether he left money is not 
certainly known. I think if Mr. Robert Lincoln knew of it, he would 
do it out of his father's estate. 23 
The accounts of Lincoln's visit to his father's grave which we 
have noted give as his companions on that occasion A. H. Chap- 
man, Isaac Rodgers, and John J. Hall. Still other "eye witness" 
accounts have been preserved in which Lincoln visited the grave 
with the authors of these accounts. 

Theron E. Balch, then 15 years old, and attending school in 
Farmington, many years later told this story. The pupils were in 
the school yard during the morning recess, when three men drove 
up in a carriage and asked for a boy to guide them to the Gordon 
cemetery. Balch spoke up, and Lincoln asked his companion in 
the carriage, Dennis Hanks, to move up beside the driver to 
make room for the boy beside Lincoln. Lincoln questioned young 
Balch about his school work and placed the lad at his ease. 

21 LeBaron, pp. 423-424. 

22 Herndon-Weik photostats, Nos. 421, 423. 

23 Letter, Graham to Hagar, March 3, 1879, previously cited. 

The Death of Thomas Lincoln, 1851 137 

Balch "directed him to his father's grave, which was marked by 
an odd-shaped sandstone." After a short meditation by his father's 
grave, Lincoln 'walked about the graveyard, reading the in- 
scriptions of other stones." Then Lincoln drove Balch back to 
his school and dismissed him with his thanks and a coin, which 
Balch refused to take. 24 

This account is highly improbable. In the first place, it is 
the only account placing Dennis Hanks with Lincoln. If Hanks 
was in the vehicle with Lincoln no guide to the cemetery would 
have been required. Furthermore, it is most likely that Lincoln 
knew the location of the cemetery himself, and that this was 
not his first visit to his father's grave. The "odd-shaped sand- 
stone" is not mentioned in any other description of the incident. 

It is possible that John Hanks, not Dennis Hanks, was with 
Lincoln on this occasion. After Lincoln's death John Hanks told 
William H. Herndon that Lincoln suggested that he go with him 
to Charleston in 1861. Hanks states: "I went with him— saw his 
father's grave." 25 

Also of doubtful accuracy is an account by Mrs. Sarah Louisa 
Hall Fox, daughter of Matilda Johnston Hall Moore, at whose 
home Lincoln visited on this occasion. A few years before her 
death in 1935 at 94 years of age, Mrs. Fox (19 years old in January 
1861) told of Lincoln's visit to Farmington and to the grave. 
Mrs. Fox accompanied Lincoln from her mother's home to the 
John J. Hall cabin at Goosenest Prairie. From there Lincoln 
and Mrs. Fox went to the Gordon cemetery. "He again helped 
me out," Mrs. Fox recalled, "and we viewed his father's last 
resting place. There was only a slab with the name 'Thomas 
Lincoln' and the date of his death. He looked sad as he took me 
back to the cab." 26 

If we take the word of all who professed to know the details 
of the visit to Thomas Lincoln's grave, Abraham Lincoln was 

24 Charleston Daily Courier, May 22, 1924. As told by Mr. Balch to Mr. J. 
A. Colby. Clipping in scrapbook of Mrs. Esther C. Goodwin of Charleston. 
Mrs. Kate E. Bacon, a daughter of Mr. Balch, gave a slightly different version 
in an interview printed in a San Diego paper. Mrs. Bacon's account men- 
tions no other person with Lincoln when he drove up to the school-yard. 
The grave marker, according to Mrs. Bacon, was a "petrified log." Clipping 
from unnamed and undated San Diego paper in files of Lincoln National Life 
Foundation, Fort Wayne, Indiana. 

25 Herndon and Weik Mss., group III, No. 3913. Photostat from Library of 
Congress. Lincoln's letter to John Hanks, January 28, 1861 is in Collected 
Works, vol. IV, p. 181. 

20 Clipping, St. Louis Globe-Democrat, December 12, 1933. In files of Lincoln 
National Life Foundation, Fort Wayne, Ind. Sarah Louisa Hall was born on 
August 12, 1841. Ms. in Barrett Collection. Sale Catalogue, 1952, p. 7. 


accompanied by quite a party — Chapman, Hall, Rodgers, Dennis 
Hanks, John Hanks, Balch, and Mrs. Fox! The grave, instead of 
being unmarked, was decorated with a walnut board, an oak 
board (both placed there by Lincoln himself at the time of the 
visit), a piece of sandstone, a petrified log, and a slab bearing his 
name! The writer concludes that Lincoln was accompanied to the 
graveyard by Chapman and possibly Hall and/or Rodgers, and 
that probably the grave was unmarked at the time. 

According to Mrs. Abraham Lincoln, her husband planned 
to make provision for marking his father's grave during the sum- 
mer of 1865. In a letter dated Chicago, December 19, 1867, Mary 
Todd Lincoln wrote to her husband's stepmother: 

My husband a few weeks before his death mentioned to me, that he 
intended that summer, paying proper respect to his father's grave, by 
a head & footstone, with his name & age & and I propose very soon 
carrying out his intentions. It was not from want of affection for his 
father, as you are well aware that it was not done, but his time was so 
greatly occupied always. 27 

Mrs. Abraham Lincoln did not make any arrangements for 
Thomas' grave, probably due to her failing health, and his grave 
was still unmarked when Sarah Lincoln was buried by her hus- 
band in 1869. 

A resident of the neighborhood, George B. Balch, who had 
known Thomas Lincoln, was a poet as well as a farmer. In 1876 
he composed the following poem which called attention to the 
neglect of the grave of Thomas Lincoln: 


In a low, sweet vale, by a murmering rill, 

The pioneer's ashes are sleeping, 
Where the white marble slabs are so lonely and still, 
In their silence their vigil are keeping. 


On their sad, lonely faces are words of fame, 

But none of them speak of his glory, 
When the pioneer died, his age and his name, 

No monument whispers the story. 


No myrtle, nor ivy, nor hyacinth blows, 

O'er the lonely grave where they laid him; 

No cedar, nor holly, nor almond tree grows 
Near the plebian's grave to shade him. 


Bright evergreens wave over many a grave 

O'er some bow the sad weeping willow, 
But no willow trees nor evergreens wave 

Where the pioneer sleeps on his pillow. 

27 From photostat of original letter in files of Lincoln National Life Founda- 
tion, Fort Wayne, Ind. Courtesy of Dr. L. A. Warren. 

The Death of Thomas Lincoln, 1851 139 


Some are inhumed with honors of state 

And laid beneath temples to moulder; 
The grave of the father of Lincoln the great, 

Is known by a hillock and boulder. 


Let him take his lone sleep, and gently rest, 

With naught to disturb or wake him, 
When the angels shall come to gather the blest 

To Abraham's bosom, they'll take him. 28 

Largely as a result of this poem, public interest was aroused, 
and a monument twelve feet high was erected in May 1880. Mrs. 
S. M. Owings, daughter of Thomas Donnell, Mattoon monu- 
ment dealer, who supplied the monument, many years later 
described how the movement to secure a fitting marker over 
the grave of Thomas and Sarah Lincoln succeeded. The publi- 
cation of Mr. Balch's poem resulted in a movement for a monu- 
ment and $22 was raised in a short time. Mr. Donnell wrote to 
Robert Todd Lincoln, grandson of Thomas Lincoln, and as a 
result Mr. Lincoln sent $118 toward the cost of the stone. Five 
dollars additional was donated by Mr. Joseph Glenn of Mattoon, 
making a total of $145. Mr. Lincoln showed his interest by com- 
ing to Mattoon to look at the stone intended for the grave of 
his grandfather. He visited the home of Mr. Donnell, and ex- 
pressed his thanks to those who had undertaken a task that the 
relatives and friends of Thomas Lincoln should have accom- 
plished years before. 29 

Another account of the origin of the 1880 Thomas Lincoln 
monument tells of George Balch raising money for the stone 
in the fall of 1879 by reciting his poem, for a paid admission, 
in Mattoon and other places. This account records that Robert 
Lincoln's contribution was $100. 30 

28 Supplement to Lerna Weekly Eagle, Lincoln Anniversary issue, February 
1928. Many of Mr. Balch's poems were published in 1912 by his daughter, 
Mrs. Frank McCrory of Charleston. George B. Balch: Poems, Boston, Sher- 
man, French and Co., 1912. Included is a biographical note written by Mr. 
T. J. Lee of Lee's Academy, shortly after Mr. Balch's death on September 4, 
1886. Mr. Balch is buried at the Indian Creek cemetery, east of Lerna in 
Pleasant Grove Township, Coles County. 

29 Letter from Mrs. Owings to the Mattoon Journal-Gazette. Clipping, no 
date, in possession of Mr. George P. Rodgers of Pleasant Grove Township. 

:{0 Article by Dr. C. E. Pollard in Champaign News Gazette, May 26, 1939. 
Clipping in the possession of the writer. A framed notice formerly on the 
fence surrounding the 1880 monument, on the letterhead of the Shiloh Lincoln 
Memorial Club of Janesville, 111., undated, also states that Robert Lincoln 
contributed $100. An account in the CJiarleston Plaindealer (no date, prob- 
ably February 1892) states that $34 was raised by Balch and that Robert 
Lincoln made up the difference, to a total cost of $150, Photostat of clipping 
in the possession of the writer. 


In time vandals ("souvenir hunters") chipped the corners from 
the monument until it became unsightly. Mrs. Susan D. Baker, 
daughter of Isaac W. Rodgers, and other residents of the neigh- 
borhood were convinced that a more suitable marker should be 
erected, one protected from vandals and bearing the names of 
both Thomas and Sarah Lincoln. The 1880 monument bears 
only the name of Thomas Lincoln. They formed the "Shiloh 
Lincoln Memorial Club" with Mrs. Baker as president. An ef- 
fort to get the state legislature to provide the monument failed, 
as did efforts to secure the needed money by private subscrip- 
tion. 31 

The project for a new monument took definite form in 1923 
when Mr. Wayne C. Townley of Bloomington, district governor 
of the Lions club of Illinois, met Mrs. Baker and determined to 
see the job done. Mr. Townley and the Shiloh Lincoln Memorial 
Club entered into a written agreement whereby he agreed to 
raise $2,500 for the monument. Failing to secure this amount by 
individual donations, Mr. Townley took up the proposal as a 
Lions district project, and spoke to every Lions club in Illinois. 
Nearly every club responded and the monument, of Barre granite, 
was secured from Stotzer Brothers of Milwaukee, who gave a 
substantial discount because of their interest in the project. 32 

The dedication of the monument took place on May 16, 1924, 
under the auspices of the Illinois Lions clubs. Mr. Harry I. Han- 
nah of Mattoon was in charge of the program. Mr. Townley, 
former Governor Frank O. Lowden, Dr. William E. Barton and 
Mrs. Susan D. Baker spoke. President Calvin Coolidge sent a 
letter, addressed to Dr. Barton, expressing his interest in the 
occasion and his regret that he could not be present. The Presi- 
dent's letter ended with this sentiment: "This monument com- 
memorates not simply the individuals above whose dust it is 
erected, but the home which they established and maintained. 
That home, lacking though it was in all our present luxuries and 
in many of our comforts, was adequate for the development of 
character; it gave to the world Abraham Lincoln." 33 In like vein, 
the inscription on the monument reads: 

31 Mrs. Baker's activities are described in an article by her granddaughter, 
Mrs. Sue Josties, in the Neoga (Illinois) News for February 12, 1953. 

32 Letter, Wayne C. Townley to the writer, April 8, 1953. Mr. Townley for 
many years has been active in the Illinois State Historical Society. He is a 
past president of the Society. Photostat of the agreement with the Shiloh 
Lincoln Memorial Club in the possession of the writer. Courtesy of Mr. 

33 Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, April-July 1924, pp. 234- 
240 (vol. XVII, nos. 1-2) . 

The Death of Thomas Lincoln, 1851 141 


Thomas and Sarah Bush Lincoln 
1778-1851 1788-1869 

Father and Stepmother 

Of our Martyred President 

Their Humble but Worthy Home 

Gave to the World 

Abraham Lincoln 

Markers at the foot of both graves were added in 1925 by the 
Kiwanis Club of Danville, and in 1934 an iron fence was erected 
around the plot by the Illinois-Eastern Iowa district of the 
Kiwanis. The original monument of 1880 is now near the en- 
trance to the cemetery. The Shiloh cemetery is on the Memorial 
Highway. By the roadside is an historical marker erected by 
the State of Illinois in 1934 which reads: 


In Shiloh Cemetery are the graves of Thomas and Sarah Lincoln, 
father and stepmother of Abraham Lincoln. On January 31, 1861, 
shortly before assuming the presidency, Lincoln came here from Spring- 
field to visit his father's grave in company with his stepmother. 

The last statement probably is wrong. There is no acceptable 

evidence that Mrs. Lincoln accompanied her stepson to the 

cemetery. She was seventy-two years old and the day was cold 

and rainy. Eight years later she was brought to the cemetery 

to join her husband, following her death in 1869. 

Lincoln Protects the Interests of 
His Stepmother 

AS SOLE HEIR of Thomas Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln in- 
herited his father's 80-acre farm at Goosenest Prairie upon the 
death of Thomas Lincoln in January 1851. He had no desire 
to profit from the inheritance, and on August 12, 1851, he sold 
the 80 acres to his stepbrother John D. Johnston for one dollar, 
reserving the "right of Dower of Sarah Lincoln, widow of the 
said Thomas Lincoln deceased." 1 The transaction appears to 
have been conducted by mail. On August 31 following the sale we 
find Abraham writing to Johnston from Springfield, "Inclosed is 
the deed for the land. We are all well, and have nothing in the 
way of news. We have had no cholera here for about two weeks. 
Give my love to all, and especially to mother." 2 

Johnston had not owned the land more than a few months 
when he proposed to sell it and move to Missouri. When in 
Charleston on November 2, 1851, Lincoln learned of this pro- 
posal. Two days later, having gone on to Shelbyville, Lincoln 
wrote to Johnston, giving him his opinion, in a letter in which 
he showed concern for the welfare of his stepmother. Lincoln 
advised against the move. As for his mother's dower right in the 
80 acres, that she could let Johnston have, "and no thanks to me." 
The forty acres in his name (the "Abraham forty") Lincoln in- 
tended to keep for the benefit of his stepmother. The letter of 
November 4 follows: 

Dear Brother: When I came into Charleston day-before yesterday, 
I learned that you are anxious to sell the land where you live, and move 
to Missouri. I have been thinking of this ever since; and cannot but 
think such a notion is utterly foolish. What can you do in Missouri, 
better than here? Is the land any richer? Can you there, any more 
than here, raise corn, & wheat & oats without work? Will any body 

M^eed Records, vol. O, p. 215. NW14, SEi/ 4 , and NE14, SW14, Section 21, 
T. 11 N., R. 9 E. Abraham Lincoln and wife Mary to John D. Johnston. 
Collected Works, vol. II, pp. 108-109. 

'Collected Works, vol. II, p. 110. Thomas, 1847-1853, pp. 242-245, finds no 
record of Lincoln leaving Springfield during the period August 11-31, 1851. 


Lincoln Protects His Stepmother's Interests 143 

there, any more than here, do your work for you? If you intend to go 
to work, there is no better place than right where you are; if you do 
not intend to go to work, you cannot get along any where. Squirming 
& crawling about from place to place can do no good. You have raised 
no crop this year, and what you really want is to sell the land, get 
the money and spend it — part with the land you have, and my life 
upon it, you will never after, own a spot big enough to bury you in. 
Half you will get for the land, you spend moving to Missouri, and the 
other half you will eat and drink, and wear out, & no foot of land will 
be bought. Now, I feel it my duty to have no hand in such a piece 
of foolery. I feel that it is so even on your own account; and par- 
ticularly on Mother's account. The Eastern forty acres I intend to keep 
for Mother while she lives — if you will not cultivate it; it will rent 
for enough to support her — at least it will rent for something. Her 
Dower in the other two forties, she can let you have, and no thanks 
to [me]. 

Now do not misunderstand this letter. I do not write it in any un- 
kindness. I write it in order, if possible, to get you to face the truth 
— which truth is, you are destitute because you have idled away all 
your time. Your thousand pretenses for not getting along better are 
all nonsense — they deceive nobody but yourself. Go to work is the 
only cure for your case. 

A postscript was addressed to his stepmother: 

A word for Mother. Chapman tells me he wants you to go and live 
with him. If I were you I would try it awhile. If you get tired of it 
(as I think you will not) you can return to your own home. Chapman 
feels very kindly to you; and I have no doubt he will make your situa- 
tion very pleasant. 3 

The Chapman referred to was Augustus H. Chapman, husband 
of Mrs. Lincoln's granddaughter Harriet Hanks. Mrs. Lincoln did 
live with the Chapmans for a time, perhaps on more than one 
occasion. Her permanent home, however, remained at Goosenest 
Prairie with the family of her grandson, John }. Hall, who, as 
we shall see, bought the farm from Johnston in 1851. Squire Hall, 
father of John and son-in-law of Mrs. Lincoln, died in October 
1851, the same year as the death of Thomas Lincoln. 

After writing to Johnston on November 4, Lincoln received a 
letter from him to which he replied on November 9, still writing 
from Shelbyville. Evidently Johnston had suggested selling the 
"Abraham forty" and putting the money at interest for the benefit 
of Mrs. Lincoln. Lincoln wrote: 

Dear Brother; When I wrote you before I had not received your 
letter. I still think as I did; but if the land can be sold so that 1 get 
three hundred dollars to put to interest for mother, I will not object 
if she does not. But before I will make a deed, the money must be 
had, or secured beyond all doubt, at ten per cent. 4 

This did not suit Johnston, who wanted to get one hundred 
dollars out of the sale, leaving two hundred dollars for the benefit 
of Mrs. Lincoln. He so wrote to Lincoln on November 22, who 

3 Collected Works, vol. II, pp. 111-112. 
Collected Works, vol. II, p. 112. 


replied from Springfield on November 25, refusing to sell the 

land unless all of the money received went to Mrs. Lincoln's 

support. The letter follows: 

Dear Brother: Your letter of the 22nd. is just received. Your pro- 
posal about selling the East forty acres of land is all that I want or 
could claim for myself; but I am not satisfied with it on Mother's 
account. I want her to have her living, and I feel that it is my duty, 
to some extent, to see that she is not wronged. She had a right of 
Dower (that is, the use of one-third for life) in the other two forties; 
but, it seems, she has already let you take that, hook and line. She 
now has the use of the whole of the east forty, as long as she lives; and 
if it be sold, of course she is entitled to the interest on alt the money 
it brings, as long as she lives; but you propose to sell it for three 
hundred dollars, take one hundred away with you, and leave her two 
hundred at 8 percent, making her the enormous sum of 16 dollars a 
year. Now, if you are satisfied with treating her in that way, I am not. 
It is true, that you are to have that forty for two hundred dollars, at 
Mother's death; but you are not to have it before. I am confident that 
land can be made to produce for Mother at least $30 a year, and I can 
not, to oblige any living person, consent that she shall be put on an 
allowance of sixteen dollars a year. Yours, etc. 5 

Lincoln did not agree to selling the forty acres which were in 
his name, and the land was never sold by him. The sale of the 
eighty acres which Johnston had received from Lincoln in August 
for one dollar went ahead, however. John J. Hall bought the 
land on November 27, 1851, for $250. 6 Mrs. Lincoln was a party to 
the sale, the record of which contains no mention of her dower 
right. Being a party, her rights to the property went to Hall as 
did those of Johnston. 

Johnston left Coles County late in February 1852, not for 
Missouri, but for Marion county, Arkansas, in the Ozark region, 
which he reached on March 1. He bought a farm on the White 
River a few miles south of the Missouri line, for $160, the money 
presumably coming from his sale of the Goosenest Prairie farm 
to Hall for $250. Mrs. Johnston's father and family lived in the 
same region. 7 

5 Collected Works, vol. II, p. 113. 

6 Deed Records, vol. Q, pp. 122-123. John D. Johnston and wife Nancy J. 
and Sarah Lincoln to John J. Hall. Filed January 14, 1853. "Nancy J." was 
Johnston's second wife, Nancy Jane Williams, whom he married on March 
2, 1851. 

7 Letter, "J. D. Johnston & Nancy Johnston" to "Dear Brother and Sister," 
dated "Taney County, August 3, 1852." The letter probably was written from 
the home of Mrs. Johnston's father in Taney County, Missouri, which adjoins 
Marion County, Arkansas. In the letter Johnston gave his address as "Marion 
County, Worth Post Office Arkansas." Since Johnston had no brother, the 
letter presumably was to his wife's brother and sister. This is indicated also 
by the reference in the letter to "your father." Johnston's father had been 
dead since 1816. Text of letter in Sandburg, Collector, pp. 92-93. From Bar- 
rett Collection. In Illinois State Historical Library. 

Lincoln Protects His Stepmother's Interests 145 

John D. Johnston returned to Coles County from Arkansas in 
less than a year. He died in Coles County on April 1, 1854. He 
left no will. His personal property at the time of his death was 
appraised at $55.90. Despite Johnston's indolence, Lincoln was 
fond of him. In a conversation with A. H. Chapman on the 
occasion of his last visit to Coles County in 1861, Lincoln "spoke 
of his stepbrother John D. Johnston who had died a short time 
previous in the most affectionate manner." 8 

There is little written evidence of financial or other assistance 
which Lincoln gave to his stepmother between 1851 and 1861. 
This is not surprising, as his gifts to her were made in person, 
without correspondence, when he visited Charleston. 

There is a tradition in the Sawyer family, with whom Mrs. 
Lincoln may have spent some time following her husband's 
death, that Abraham sent her ten dollars a month. On one 
occasion, according to the tradition, she purchased gifts for John 
Sawyer's children, Lydia and Ann with money sent her by her 
stepson. When Lincoln was in Charleston in 1858 for the debate 
with Douglas, he gave his mother fifty dollars, according to 
Chapman. 10 Weik reports that when Lincoln last visited his step- 
mother in 1861, he left her "a generous sum of money to lighten 
the burden of her declining years and thus insure her every 
comfort." 11 This is not unlikely. 

There is reason to believe that some of the money Abraham 
Lincoln gave to his stepmother found its way into the hands of 
her grandson, John J. Hall. The Barrett Collection contained a 
receipt for $20.50, to which Sarah Lincoln made her mark, given 
to John Hall on June 18, 1857, "in full payment of a note I 
Have on Him & in full of all claims I Have against Him up to 
this date March 10th/57." Mrs. Lincoln's mark was witnessed 
by her grandson-in-law, Augustus H. Chapman. The receipt is in 
Chapman's handwriting, also. Evidently Hall still owed some 
money to Mrs. Lincoln, for the receipt, originally written for 

8 Chapman to Herndon, October 8, 1865. Herndon-Weik photostats, No. 422. 
Papers relating to settlement of Johnston's estate in Probate File No. 1107, 
Coles County Probate Records. Johnston's early return to Coles County from 
Arkansas is indicated by the fact that on December 22, 1852, he signed two 
small notes (for less than twelve dollars together) to Coles County merchants. 
These notes were unpaid when he died fifteen months later. 

9 ''Sawyer Family Traditions," prepared for the writer by Mr. Clarence W. 
Bell, October 25, 1949. The gifts were a shawl and a breast pin. John Sawyer 
was the grandfather of Mr. Bell. 

10 Chapman to Herndon, October 18, 1865. Herndon-Weik Photostats, No. 

11 Weik, p. 50. 


"all claims I Have against Him up to this date," was changed by 
striking out "this date," which was June 18, and inserting "March 
10th/57," which was four months earlier. 12 

Mrs. Lincoln's daughter Matilda lost her first husband, Squire 
Hall, on October 5, 1851. On November 27, 1851, John D. John- 
ston, who had received Thomas Lincoln's eighty-acre farm from 
Abraham Lincoln, Thomas' heir, on August 12, 1851, for one 
dollar, resold the farm to John J. Hall, son of Mrs. Matilda Hall, 
for $250. Did Mrs. Lincoln live with her daughter Matilda and 
her grandson John at the Goosenest Prairie farm following this 
November sale to Hall? It is likely that she did much of the time, 
although not continuously. Matilda presumably left the Lincoln- 
Hall cabin in 1856, following her marriage to Reuben Moore on 
June 19. Moore had a house in the village of Farmington. 

During the Civil War an unpleasant incident is supposed to 
have occurred in Charleston involving Mrs. Thomas Lincoln. If 
it took place it is probable that President Lincoln never heard 
of it, as the local authorities kept the matter as quiet as possible, 
according to the account by "Uncle Joe" Cannon, which first 
appeared in 1927. 

Since 1861 Joseph Gurney Cannon, a Tuscola resident, had 
been state's attorney for the 27th judicial circuit consisting of 
Champaign, Douglas, Ford and Vermillion counties. On Febru- 
ary 10, 1865, Coles and Edgar counties were added to this circuit. 13 
Thus Cannon became the prosecuting attorney for Coles County. 
His first term of court in that capacity was that of April 1865. He 
replaced James R. Cunningham as prosecutor and Judge Oliver 
L. Davis replaced Judge Charles H. Constable. 

As Cannon tells the story about Mrs. Lincoln there were those 
in Charleston who were not above striking at President Lincoln 
through his stepmother. "One day," Cannon remembered many 
years later, "I received an urgent summons of a most secret 
nature to come to Charleston." He found the judge and the clerk 
of the court greatly disturbed. They laid before Cannon a 

12 Original in the possession of Justin G. Turner, Hollywood, Calif., who 
kindly gave the writer a photostatic copy, March 24, 1952. 

18 Public Laws of the Stale of Illinois, 18G5, pp. 32-33. This left only two 
counties, Clark and Cumberland, in the 4th circuit (p. 26) . The reason for 
reducing the size of the 4th circuit was to punish Judge Charles H. Constable 
"for his decision in the Clark County deserter-kidnaping case, some two years 
previously. This was done in the face of the remonstrance of the people of the 
circuit." Alexander Davidson and Bernard Stuve: A Complete History of 
Illinois (1874), pp. 911-912. The Constitution of 1848, article V, section 28, 
provided for the election of stale's attorneys by judicial circuits. Cannon re- 
mained public prosecutor for the 27th circuit until 1869. 

Lincoln Protects His Stepmother's Interests 147 

charge of theft against Mrs. Lincoln which she had admitted. 
Cannon was in a quandary. He did not believe Mrs. Lincoln was 
a thief, despite her confession, and he refused to prosecute. In- 
stead, he made a personal investigation. He told the judge that 
he "thought more likely she was the victim of a conspiracy," and 
that "it was another phase of the Copperhead war." An interview 
with Mrs. Lincoln brought out the facts. While shopping she had 
taken a small piece of calico to match with some goods of the 
same sort she had purchased before — a common practice, and 
perfectly honest in its purpose. But she was seen putting the 
sample in her pocket and leaving without paying for it. "She was 
too conscientious to make a denial," Cannon concluded, " and I 
imagine too proud to offer excuses." He had no doubt that "she 
thought of the disgrace she was bringing on the honored son in 
the White House." Cannon reassured Mrs. Lincoln, and related 
the circumstances to the judge, adding "that if we prosecute Mrs. 
Lincoln we would be joining in a conspiracy to injure the Presi- 
dent." He proposed that the charge and the confession be wiped 
off the records. "At the same time we sent for the complainants," 
Cannon recalled "and forcibly impressed upon them our disgust 
at their conduct and the contempt in which we held them, and 
warned them that if they gave any publicity to the affair the 
consequences would be most unpleasant." Fearing the wrath of 
the judge and the prosecutor, they kept silent. 14 

If this incident occurred at all, it probably was early in 1865, 
when Cannon first became the Coles County prosecutor. The 
writer doubts that it ever took place. The Coles County Circuit 
Court records for the Civil War period include a case, which be- 
cause of its similarity, may have been the basis for Cannon's story. 
If so, faulty memory and an active imagination combined to lead 
"Uncle Joe" astray. 

On October 6, 1864, the Coles County grand jury indicted 
Mrs. Matilda Moore for larceny on the charge of stealing, on 
September 1, 1864, a bolt of calico valued at $5.25 from Morton 
and Clement's store in Charleston. 15 Mrs. Moore, the widow of 
Reuben Moore, was the daughter of Mrs. Thomas Lincoln, and 
the stepsister of the President. The indictment was filed by 
James R. Cunningham, of Charleston, state's attorney on October 
6, 1864, with Circuit Clerk George W. Teel. Bail was fixed at 

14 L. W. Busbey: Uncle Joe Cannon, pp. 109-111. Cited hereafter as Busbey. 

15 Morton and Clement's store was located at the southeastern corner of the 
public square in Charleston, on the site now occupied by Alexander's depart- 
ment store. 


$300. The bond for that amount was signed by John J. Hall, 
son of Mrs. Moore by her first marriage, and to this document 
Matilda Moore made her mark. The bond was dated March 
1865, the day of the month not given. 

The case came to trial before Circuit Judge Oliver L. Davis 
on April 2, 1865. Although a witness appeared in her behalf, 
Margaret J. Eastin, Mrs. Moore entered a plea of guilty. The 
court found the value of the property taken by Mrs. Moore to 
be three dollars. She was fined $100 and costs, and ordered 
committed to jail until the fine was paid. On April 17, 1865, 
Mrs. Moore and Hall entered into a second bond, for $200, for 
the payment of the fine within five months. 16 

A fine of $100 for a three dollar theft appears to have been 
rather severe, especially so since from the record it appears that 
this was Mrs. Moore's first and only offense. Neighborhood tradi- 
tion pictures Mrs. Moore living in a log cabin in the village of 
Farmington at about this time, and taking in washing for a 
living. Was her poverty a factor in the theft? 

Note the similarities in the Cannon story and the case of 
The People vs. Matilda Moore. In the one case, Mrs. Lincoln; 
in the other, her daughter. In both cases calico was taken. In 
both the accused admitted guilt. Could Cannon's memory have 
tricked him in later years? If so, it is possible that instead of 
protecting Lincoln's stepmother, actually Cannon, as public 
prosecutor, was a party to imposing a $100 fine for a $3 theft 
upon Lincoln's stepsister. It is probable that Cannon did not 
realize the family relationship. He had only recently become the 
Coles County prosecutor, and he was not a resident of the county. 
The names Moore and Hall, in themselves, would not have 
suggested a Lincoln relationship to him. The severity of the 
sentence might be explained by picturing Cannon and Judge 
Davis, both acting in Coles County for the first time, as eager 
to establish reputations for being "tough." Imagine their dismay 
upon discovering that a victim of that policy had been the 
stepsister of President Lincoln! Hence the acceptance of a bond 
for her release on April 17, two days after Lincoln's death — ? 

In the spring of 1864 President Lincoln sent fifty dollars to 
Dennis Hanks for the use of his stepmother. Hanks' letter to 

16 Circuit Court Record, vol. IX, pp. 60, 244, 277. Documents in the case in 
the lower vault of the Circuit Clerk's office. The obligation was finally settled 
on December 5, 1868, over three years later, when John J. Hall paid $150 to 
Sheriff Clark C. Starkweather. Receipt signed by Clerk of the Court H. Clay 
Wortham. In Coles County Circuit Court Judges Docket, 1865-1868, p. 21. 

Lincoln Protects His Stepmother's Interests 149 

Lincoln acknowledging the money shows that at this time Mrs. 
Lincoln was living with Mr. and Mrs. Hanks at Charleston. On 
April 5, 1864, Hanks wrote: 

Dere Abe I Receivd your Little [Letter?] Check for 50.00 I shoed it 
to mother She cried like a child Abe She is mity childish heep of 
truble to us Betsy is very feble and has to wait on hir which ort to have 
some person to wait on hir we are getting old we have a great many to 
wait on of our connections they will cum to see us while we Live. . . ." 
In May 1864 Hanks visited President Lincoln in Washington, 
and evidently discussed the question of the care of his stepmother 
with him, for on June 8, 1864, Hanks wrote to John J. Hall, who 
was living at the Goosenest Prairie farm to come and take Mrs. 
Lincoln. Mrs. Hanks was in poor health and the burden of 
the care of Mrs. Lincoln was on Dennis. Furthermore, Hall was 
using, without paying any rent, the "Abraham forty" which still 
belonged to Abraham Lincoln, and which Lincoln wished to 
be used for the benefit of his stepmother. Hanks insisted that 
Hall either keep Mrs. Lincoln or pay the "back rent" on this prop- 
erty which he had been using since 1851, or for thirteen years. 
The letter, from the Barrett Collection, follows: 

John I want you to cum and take grand Mother and keep hir untile 
I see that your ant lives or not. It looks very strange to me to no that 
you have no simpany for your ant than you have that has waited on 
you a many a time and Matilda allso John she has worked hir self down 
just at such business But the time has cum that youall cant trot a 
round and she doo the worke for all John you would not no hir My 
hart is grieved with teres in my eyes But it does no good now the 
thing is dun Now John I have bin to see old Abe and now I say to you 
that that forty acres of land was left for your Grand mother's support 
and if you dont tend to it I will tend to it for you shore I am treated 
very rong a bout it you think that it cant be dun but I will show you 
a bout it but if you will rather pay the back rent rather than keep hir 
you must do it shore Take your choise a bout it one or the other has 
to be dun shore Not one of them that she has cooked for and waited 
on is any a count to hir now so cum and take your grand Mother from 
here untile your ant lives or dies .... it is not a fitting place for your 
grand Mother I entend to do as I say a bout it shore take your chies I 
want to hear from you a meaditly for I shall prosed in time 

D F Hanks 18 
Whether this Letter had any effect or not the writer does not 
know, but Mrs. Lincoln did not remain with the Hankses very 
long. Mrs. Hanks died on the following December 18 after an 
illness of about six months. Her daughter Harriet Hanks Chap- 
man reported her death to Lincoln on January 17, 1865. Harriet 

17 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 32134. Mrs. Lincoln was Hanks' 
mother-in-law, hence the reference to "mother." "Betsy" was his wife, Sarah 
Elizabeth Johnston Hanks. 

18 In Illinois State Historical Library, from Barrett Collection. Sandburg, 
Collector, p. 95, prints the text of this letter. Sandburg assumes that the letter 
was written to T. L. D. Johnston, a son of John D. Johnston and a cousin of 
John Hall. The writer is convinced that the letter was to Hall. 


wrote that she had been "down" to see Mrs. Lincoln on the first 
of the year. Mrs. Lincoln was living at the time with the family 
of her grandson, John J. Hall, at the old Lincoln farm. Harriet 
asked Lincoln to give her husband, Lieutenant Colonel A. H. 
Chapman, a "situation" so that the Chapmans could provide Mrs. 
Lincoln with a more comfortable home. The letter follows: 

Charleston Ills, Jan. the 17th 65 
President Lincoln 
Dear Uncle 

I have been intending to write to you for some time, but felt so bad 
that I had not the heart to write to anyone save my husband. Our 
family have resently met with a great loss. God in his divine mercy has 
seen fit to take from our midst a Kind and devoted Mother. She died 
on the 18th of Dec after an Illness of about 6 months in her death we 
have lost a devoted Mother one whose place can never be fild on this 
Earth, You also have lost a friend for Mother was indeed a friend to 
you and Spoke of you often during her last moments. But we ought not 
to grieve too much for her for She died happy and left behind every 
assurance that she has gone hapy. Father takes her death very hard he 
is not well and I fear that he is not long for this world and it is heart 
rendering to think of having to give him up too. I was down to see 
Grand Ma Lincoln on Newyears. She seems to be failing fast and is 
grieving her self to death about Mother. Poor woman how my heart 
aches for her. She was so destitute of every comfort. She wants to leave 
there very bad and come to my house and tells me that she is badly 
treated. I told her that it was impossible for me to take her just now 
for my house is small and not very Comfortable and my family is large 
but I told her to wait till my Husband come home his time of Service 
expires the 17th of Feb. 19 and then we would try and do something for 
her it looks too hard for as good a woman as She is to be compeld to 
Spend her last days in want and misery and I for one will do as I have 
always done my part in her behalf and now want you to assist me by 
giving my Husband a situation so that he can support his family and 
take good care of her as long as She lives if we should be spared that 
long, you can do this and not discomode yourself in the least and I 
think that Augustus deserves your favor. He has always been a Strong 
Union man spent both time and money in your election has now been 
in the Army for 3 years and 3 months and would remain longer if his 
family was better situated — during that time he has never been sick a 
day or unfit for duty and has never had but one furlough home and 
that only for 15 days, has not made ennything but a living for himself 
and family and this is why I ask you for your assistance feeling sure 
that you would not deny me and them Gran Ma made me promise to 
write to you and tell you to do all you could for us for she would 
rather live with us then enny where els. The rest of the relations 
are all well. 

The roling months have brought us the close of an other year. There 
has been much suffering throughout our land during that time. Many 
are the Vacant Chair. Houses have been made desolate partings en- 
dured. Heart Strings have been broken — and many widows and 
orphans have mourned for the loved and lost. But let us look forward 
to a better picture and welcome young '65 with bright hopes and pleas- 

19 On December 25, 1864, Chapman had written to the President asking that 
he be discharged from the service on February 17. Robert Todd Lincoln Col- 
lection, No. 39540. Chapman was discharged on April 13, 1865. 

Lincoln Protects His Stepmother's Interests 151 

ant anticipations let us hope that before its Close smiling peace will 
return once more and scatter its blessings through all our land. 

Well I have written a much longer letter than I intended to trouble 
you with this time and if I have transgrest I hope you will forgive. If 
you feel disposed and can assist Augustus please let him know soon. He 
will be at home in about 6 weeks. Remember me kindly to your wife 
and children, yours with love 

Harriet A. Chapman 20 
Mrs. Chapman's statement that Mrs. Lincoln was "badly 
treated" in the Hall home, that she was living in "want and 
misery," and that "she wants to leave there very bad and come 
to my house," suggests that Mrs. Chapman was highly critical 
of the Halls. A letter from John L. Hall to Lincoln, written on 
October 18, 1864, bears out the idea of strained relations between 
the families, and suggests that credit for taking care of the 
President's stepmother was a matter of dispute between them. 
In this letter Hall accused Dennis Hanks and Chapman of keep- 
ing money that Lincoln had sent for the use of his stepmother. 
Hall insisted that he, and not Hanks or Chapman, had been 
caring for Mrs. Lincoln for the past four years. The letter was 
as follows: 

Charleston Coles County Illinois Oct 18th 1864 

Dear Uncle, 

This Leaves us all well but Grand Mother. She is quite puny [poor?]. 
I write to inform you that Grand Mother has not and does not receive 
one cent of the money you send her Dennis & Chapman keep all the 
money you send her. She now needs clothing and shoes, they have the 
money in their Pockett & Uncle Dennis is cussing you all the time and 
abusing me & your best friends for supporting you they make you be- 
lieve they are taking care of her which is not the case. I & my Mother 21 
are now taking care of her and have for the past four years. If you wish 
her to have anything send it by check here to the bank of Charleston, 
or send none for I tell you upon the honor of a man she does not get it 
& he Dennis has threatened to put her on the county. I hope to hear 
from you soon. Brother Alfred is wounded & badly, shot through the 
foot & now is in hospital at Quincy. he was wounded at Dallas Ga 27th 
of May last. I remain your nephew 

John J. Hall 
N. B. I have written you these plain truths by Gran Mothers request 
She has been asking me to do this for four years — please write soon 

John J. Hall 22 

In evaluating these letters from Mrs. Chapman and from Hall, 

it should be borne in mind that Harriet Chapman was appealing 

to Lincoln's fondness for his stepmother as a means for securing 

a political appointment for her husband, soon to be discharged 

20 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 40079. Despite Mrs. Chapman's 
concern for her father, Dennis Hanks lived to the ripe old age of 93, dying on 
October 21, 1892. At the time of this letter Augustus H. Chapman was Lieu- 
tenant Colonel of the 54th Illinois Infantry. 

21 Hall's mother was Mrs. Matilda Johnston Hall Moore, the daughter of 
Mrs. Lincoln and the widow of Squire Hall and also of Reuben Moore. 


from the army. 23 Hence her reference to Mrs. Lincoln's "want and 
misery" and alleged mistreatment. It was a great pity that the 
harrassed President, in the midst of war, was worried by such 
letters, full of family spite and jealousy, and designed to w T ork 
on his sympathy and affection for his stepmother. What replies, 
if any, Lincoln made to Hall or to Harriet Chapman, is unknown. 
If Lincoln had planned on giving a civil appointment to Chap- 
man, his death two days after Chapman's release from military 
service ruled that out. Five months later Chapman did receive an 
appointment from President Johnson. 

Chapman became an Indian Agent for the Flat Head Indians 
in Montana on September 22, 1865. He held this position until 
November 9, 1866. 24 It would seem that this appointment did not 
come to Chapman as a result of any specific arrangement made or 
word spoken by Lincoln prior to his death. There appears to be 
no evidence that Lincoln took any step to provide a civil appoint- 
ment for Colonel Chapman. In August and September 1865 
Chapman had a number of influential Illinoisians write to Presi- 
dent Johnson in his behalf, among them Governor Oglesby, Con- 
gressman Bromwell, and William H. Herndon. On September 14 
Chapman wrote to the President himself. He recounted that in 
the latter part of 1864 while still in the army he had received a 
letter from Mr. Lincoln stating that he was solicitous concerning 
the future of his stepmother, and expressed a wish that Mrs. Chap- 
man continue to care for the old lady as long as she lived. Lincoln 

"Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 37368. "Brother Alfred" refers to 
Alfred L. Hall, younger brother of John. On June 7, 1864, Alfred L. Hall 
wrote to his brother from the hospital at Nashville, Tennessee, telling of his 
wound in the foot. On September 2 he wrote again from the hospital at 
Quincy, Illinois. Letters in Illinois State Historical Library. From Barrett 
Collection. A.G.R., vol. VI, p. 412, lists in the roster of Company I, 123rd. 
Illinois Volunteer Infantry, Private Alfred D. Hall, who enlisted August 1, 
1862 and was mustered out on June 22, 1865. Opposite his name was the 
notation "wounded." Were Alfred D. Hall and Alfred L. Hall the same per- 
son? Probably. 

23 Chapman was discharged on April 13, 1865. A.G.R., vol. Ill, p. 656. A 
letter from Chapman to Lincoln dated DeBall's Bluff, Arkansas, March 25, 
1865, indicates that Lincoln expedited Chapman's release from service. Lin- 
coln had written to Chapman, according to the latter, that "if I would send 
my resignation direct to you that you would order its immediate acceptance." 
Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 41422. Chapman's resignation was pub- 
lished in Special Orders No. 171 of April 13, 1865. Reference Service Report, 
The National Archives, to the writer, October 10, 1949. 

24 Dates for Chapman's Indian agency service from Office of Indian Affairs, 
Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C. Letter to the writer from Mrs. 
Anita S. Tilden, Librarian, Office of Indian Affairs, September 27, 1949. Also, 
letter, Secretary of the Interior James Harlan to President Andrew Johnson, 
September 22, 1865. In The National Archives, Washington, D.C. 

Lincoln Protects His Stepmother's Interests 153 

informed Colonel Chapman that if he would resign his position 
in the army, Lincoln "would to some extent reward me for the 
care and kindness I had shown his mother, and for my services 
in the cause of my country. " Following his discharge in April 
1865, Chapman continued to President Johnson, he found him- 
self out of service and "only in moderate circumstances with a 
large family dependent upon him." He therefore requested a 
federal appointment, as an "assessor" in Illinois or as an Indian 
agent. 25 Chapman's request received prompt attention, for on 
September 21 President Johnson wrote to Secretary of the In- 
terior Harlan concerning Chapman and the next day Harlan 
submitted Chapman's commission as an Indian agent to the 

The Indian agency appointment was followed in 1867 by an 
appointment as assistant assessor of internal revenue, according 
to an obituary in a Charleston paper. 26 

In the fall of 1864 Mrs. Lincoln was visited by a nephew, R. Y. 
Bush of Hawesville, Kentucky. After his return home, Bush 
wrote to John J. Hall on December 3, 1864. Evidently Hall had 
"touched" him for a loan, for Bush writes: "You will also please 
give to her [Aunt Sarah] the balance of the money you may 
consider yourself in my debt. It will purchase her some comfort- 
ing article &c I can doubtless get along without." Bush thus recog- 
nized that Mrs. Lincoln was not prospering at the Hall home. In 
this letter Bush comments on President Lincoln's reelection: 

Well John, Old Abe, as he is called, is again to be our President. I 
sincerely regret it indeed. I can see nothing but war, war, war, under 
his reign, and if ever a people were thoroughly scourged by war, the 
American people are certainly that people. Peace, with union or dis- 
union would certainly be ten thousand times preferable to the people, 
even if the Negro was continued in bondage [,] to this desolating and 
heartrending strife. 

Bush did not receive a reply from Hall. On April 5, 1865, 

Bush wrote to Hall again. He was 'and have been all this time 

anxious to hear from Aunt and all the family 8c relations." Bush 

did not refer to the money Hall owed him, which Mrs. Lincoln 

was supposed to have received. Bush reports that since his last 

letter he had seen President Lincoln in Washington. Peace 

Democrat Bush evidently thinks more kindly of Lincoln after 

having seen him. "Old Abe" has now become "Father Abraham." 

25 Letters in the National Archives. Quoted in Reference Service Report, 
The National Archives, October 10, 1949, to the writer. The report was pre- 
pared by Margareth Jorgensen. 

26 Charleston Plaindealer, clipping, no date (about September 15, 1898). 
Chapman died on September 11, 1898. 


I made a visit to Washington in the latter part of winter & saw Father 
Abraham. I found him very busy, but very kind and agreeable. He 
seemed pleased to see me. Tell Aunt that they are working him very 
hard at Washington & if he had not been raised to maul rails, he could 
never stand the hard labor at the White House. 27 

Joshua F. Speed of Kentucky, whom Lincoln had known since 
his early days in Springfield, some years after the Civil War told 
of Lincoln's concern and affection for his stepmother. Speed 
saw Lincoln two weeks before his death, when he was writing a 
letter to Sarah Lincoln. Speed later recalled that Lincoln's "fond- 
ness for his stepmother and his watchful care over her after the 
death of his father deserves notice." Lincoln "could not bear to 
have anything said by any one against her." Lincoln told Speed 
that in writing to her "he was discharging a most agreeable duty." 
Lincoln then spoke of "his affection for her and her kindness 
to him." He told Speed that following his election "he could not 
bear to leave the State for four years without going to see her." 
As Speed recalled it, Lincoln told him that "A few days before 
he left home he visited her, and staid all night. In the morning, 
as he bade her good-bye, she looked at him and said, 'Good- 
bye, Abraham; I shall never see you again, you will never come 
back alive.' The earnestness of her look he said sometimes 
haunted him." Speed's comment on this was, "Alas! how true the 
prediction." 28 

Mrs. Lincoln was living at the Goosenest Prairie farm at the 
time of Lincoln's assassination. Dennis Hanks recalled in 1889 
(when he was ninety years old) that he brought her the sad 
news. Hanks told Eleanor Atkinson that: 

I had to go out to the farm to tell Aunt Sairy. Tom'd ben dead a 
good while, an' she was livin' on thar, alone. 29 

"Aunt Sairy," sez I, "Abe's dead." 

"Yes, I know, Denny. I knowed they'd kill him. I ben awaitin' fur it," 
an' she never asked no questions. She was gettin' purty old, an' I reckon 
she thought she'd jine him. She never counted on seein' him agin after 
he went down to Washington, no how. 30 

27 Letters in Illinois State Historical Library. From Barrett Collection. 
Quoted in part in Sandburg, Collector, p. 109. Bush addressed his letters to 
John F. Hall, rather than John J. Hall. This was an error. Bush's letters are 
those of a well-educated person. Bush wrote to Hall rather than directly to 
his Aunt Sarah because he knew that she could not read, and that Hall would 
read his letters in any event. 

28 Joshua F. Speed: Reminiscences of Abraham Lincoln and Notes of a Visit 
to California. Two lectures by Joshua F. Speed. Louisville, Kentucky, 1884, 
pp. 26, 36-37. Cited hereafter as Speed. Quotation courtesy of Dr. Harry 
E. Pratt. 

29 Hanks was wrong about this. John J. Hall and family lived with Mrs. 
Lincoln on the old Lincoln farm. 

Lincoln Protects His Stepmother's Interests 155 

References to Mrs. Lincoln in letters written from 1864 on 
indicate that her health was poor during the last five years of her 
life. In January 1867 Harriet Chapman reported to Herndon 
that "Grandma is getting very feeble. Since I wrote last [on 
December 10, 1866] I have visited her and found her quite sick." 31 

Mrs. Mary Todd Lincoln in 1867 wrote to Mrs. Sarah Bush Lin- 
coln in a manner that showed she fully realized her husband's 
affection for his stepmother. This is the letter from which we 
have quoted the passage concerning Thomas Lincoln's grave. The 
occasion of the letter was that the younger Mrs. Lincoln was send- 
ing a "few trifles" to her stepmother-in-law. The letter, omitting 
the part already quoted, was as follows: 

Chicago, Dec. 19th 67 
Mrs Sally Lincoln 
My Dear Madam: 

In memory of the dearly loved one, who always remembered you with 
so much affection, will you not do me the favor of accepting these feW 
trifles? God has been very merciful to you, in prolonging your life and 
I trust your health has also been preserved — In my great agony of 
mind I cannot trust myself to write about, what so entirely fills my 
thoughts, my darling husband; knowing how well you loved him also, 
is a grateful satisfaction to me. Believe me, dear Madam if I can ever 
be of any service to you, in any respect, I am entirely at your service. 
... I will be pleased to learn whether this package was received by 
you — Perhaps you know that our youngest boy, is named for your 
husband, Thomas Lincoln, this child, the idol of his father — I am 
blessed in both my sons, they are very good & noble. The eldest is 
growing very much like his own dear father. I am a deeply afflicted 
woman & hope you will pray for me — 

I am, my dear Madam, affectionately 
yours Mary Lincoln 

This letter please consider entirely private — I shall be greatly 
pleased to hear from you. 32 

The day following the writing of this letter Mrs. Mary 

Lincoln wrote again to Mrs. Sarah Lincoln. She enclosed the 

express receipts for the shipment mentioned in the previous 

letter, "also ten dollars which please accept for the making of 

the dress 8cc &c." Mrs. Lincoln requested an answer, and word 

30 Atkinson, pp. 54-55. John J. Hall's account to Mrs. Gridley of this incident 
does not mention Hanks. According to Hall, when Mrs. Lincoln learned that 
Abraham had been killed, "she jest put her apern over her face and cried out 
'Oh, my boy Abe! They've killed him, I knowed they would, I knowed they 
would.' She never hed no heart after that to be chirp and peart like she used 
to be." Gridley, p. 279. 

31 Herndon-Weik photostats, No. 1363, January 6, 1867. 

32 From photostat of original, in the files of the Lincoln National Life 
Foundation, Fort Wayne, Indiana. Lincoln Lore, No. 526, May 8, 1939, has 
the text of this letter. The two sons to whom Mrs. Lincoln refers were 
Thomas Lincoln (1853-1871), then fourteen years old, and Robert Todd 
Lincoln (1843-1926) , then twenty-four years old. Mary Todd Lincoln died 
on July 6, 1882. 


as to whether the box and money had been received. 33 It is pos- 
sible that Mrs. Mary Lincoln's concern over the safe delivery to 
Sarah of "these few trifles" (probably including material to make 
a dress) and the money with which Sarah could get a dress made 
for herself, stemmed from her familiarity with the Hanks-Hall 
letters to her husband in 1864. Hall, it will be recalled, had ac- 
cused Dennis Hanks of stealing money intended for Sarah 
Lincoln. 34 

Mrs. Sarah Bush Lincoln died in 1869, at the old Lincoln farm 
at Goosenest Prairie. 31 Mrs. Sarah Chapman of Pleasant Grove 
Township was a fourteen year old girl when she helped to "lay 
away" Mrs. Lincoln. Many years later Mrs. Chapman recalled 
that after Mrs. Lincoln's body was placed in the coffin, a pillow 
of excelsior was placed under her head. It was noticed that there 
was no pillowslip, so a neighbor supplied a large white hand- 
kerchief to cover the pillow. The funeral service was conducted 
in the Lincoln cabin by the Reverend Aaron Lovins of Toledo, 
Illinois. He stood in the door of the cabin with the family seated 
inside and the neighbors standing outside. Mr. Lovins was a 
member of the Disciples of Christ. He had been preaching at the 
Webster School (a mile and a half south of the Lincoln farm) 
where Mrs. Lincoln and the Halls with whom she lived had 
attended services. 36 Mrs. Lincoln's funeral was the "most largely 
attended of any one that ever died in the locality," according to 
an account in the Charleston Plaindealer in February 1892. 37 
John J. Hall stated in 1891 that Mrs. Lincoln was buried in a 
black woolen dress which Abraham Lincoln had given to her on 
the occasion of his last visit to Coles County in 1861. 38 

33 Quoted in Sandburg and Angle: Mary Lincoln, Wife and Widow, p. 280. 

u John J. Hall many years later told Mrs. Eleanor Gridley that "Grand- 
marm could not wear one of the dresses or other fixins" which Mrs. Mary 
Lincoln sent to her. Letters, Mrs. Gridley to Oliver R. Barrett, Chicago, 
November 28, 1934. In Illinois State Historical Library, from Barrett 

35 William H. Herndon and Jesse W. Weik: Abraham Lincoln. The True 
Story of a Great Life (1928 edition) , vol. I, p. 29, give the date as April 10. 
Cited hereafter as Herndon and Weik. An article in the Charleston Plain- 
dealer, n.d. (February 1892) refers to her death in April 1869. Photostat of 
clipping in files of Abraham Lincoln Association, Springfield. Barton, in his 
The Women Lincoln Loved, p. 108, and Tarbell in her Life of Lincoln, vol. 
Ill, p. 26, give the date of Mrs. Lincoln's death as December 10, 1869. The 
death records in the Coles County Clerk's office do not go back to 1869. 

80 Lerna Weekly Eagle, April 17, 1931. File in possession of Mr. Earl B. 
Sumerlin, Mattoon, Illinois. 

37 Photostat of clipping. 

38 Gridley, p. 277. 

Lincoln, and Coles County Politics, 

THE ELECTION OF LINCOLN to Congress in 1846 meant 
that he had become a figure of some importance in the Whig 
party of Illinois. Lincoln was the only Illinois Whig in either 
house of the Thirtieth Congress. Although he did not secure a 
second term in 1848, his party elected General Taylor as Presi- 
dent. Following his return to Springfield after the short session 
of Congress (December 1848 -March 1849) Lincoln sought un- 
successfully an appointment as Commissioner of the General 
Land Office. He also endorsed the applications of others for fed- 
eral appointments. He received many letters from those who 
sought his assistance in such appointments. Lincoln believed that 
he was entitled to have some voice in federal patronage in Illi- 
nois. On May 16, 1849, he wrote to Secretary of the Navy William 
B. Preston, reminding him of a promise that no high offices 
would be filled by Illinoisians until he had been heard on the 
matter. 1 

In May 1849, when Lincoln had begun to seek the Land Office 
position for himself, he was approached for a recommendation 
for a federal appointment by Charles H. Constable with whom 
he had practiced law in Coles County. Constable had written 
to Lincoln at Washington, but had received no reply. He now, 
May 5, 1849, writes to him at Springfield, still hopeful of receiv- 
ing "some suitable appointment under the administration." His 
motive is "no inordinate thirst for place/' but is an honest desire 
to use the "liberty with which God has endowed me." Constable 
added, frankly, that a federal appointment would "help support 
and educate a growing family," since his practice was growing less 
profitable and he was laboring under a "serious pecuniary em- 
barrassment." Constable relied upon Lincoln's friendship, which 
had ever "been a source of congratulation" to him. He was 

1 Collected Works, vol. II, pp. 48-49. 



willing to take almost any sort of appointment — a territorial 
judgeship, an Indian agency, or a diplomatic assignment to a 
South American country — 'Indeed," Constable added, "I am will- 
ing to do anything honorable. . . ." He relied on Lincoln's ad- 
vice as to his next step. 2 Constable evidently decided that he 
wanted foreign service, for on May 13, 1849, Lincoln provided 
him with a letter of introduction to the Secretary of State, John 
M. Clayton. The letter described Constable as one who "has 
fought the whig battles faithfully," and who was "now a favorite 
with us all." 3 Constable did not receive an appointment. By 
1856 he was a Democrat and in 1861 he was elected Circuit Judge 
as a Democrat. 

An exchange between Lincoln and Constable concerning the 
latter's drift from the Whigs to the Democrats is related by Hol- 
land. The undated incident took place in Paris, Edgar County. 
Constable had been criticising the Whig party for neglecting 
its friends. In his own case, he charged the party with ingratitude. 
Holland remarks that Lincoln listened to Constable in silence 
until he referred to his own case. Then Lincoln "turned fiercely 
upon him, and said, 'Mr. Constable, I understand you perfectly, 
and have noticed for some time back that you have been slowly 
and cautiously picking your way over to the Democratic party'." 4 

Lincoln also was asked to use his influence in 1849 in behalf 
of Charles W. Nabb of Charleston, who was seeking an appoint- 
ment as United States Marshal in Illinois. On April 30 Nabb 
wrote to Lincoln that "having been acquainted with the business 
of sheriff," at the solicitation of friends he had made applica- 
tion for that position. Lincoln's exertions in his behalf would 
"never be forgotten." 5 Lincoln's friend and fellow-lawyer, Alex- 
ander P. Dunbar of Charleston, at Nabb's request, wrote to him 
in Nabb's behalf, stating that Nabb would make an excellent 
Marshal and that "we in this part, of the state would be w r ell 
pleased with the appointment." Both Dunbar and Nabb, how- 
ever, believed that Benjamin Bond was likely to get the appoint- 
ment, if he did not have it already. 6 Bond got the job. An un- 

2 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 307. Lincoln also received a letter 
from Judge Justin Harlan of the 4th circuit (1849-1856) , dated Charleston, 
May 3, 1849, endorsing the application of "our crony" Constable. Ibid., 
No. 305. 

3 Collected Works, vol. II, p. 48. 

4 Holland, p. 98. On June 7, 1856, in a letter to Lyman Trumbull, Lincoln 
referred to Constable as being one of those Whigs who had "already gone 
over hook and line" to the Democrats. Collected Works, vol. II, pp. 342-343. 

5 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 289. 
Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 309. 

Coles County Politics, 1849-1858 159 

signed and undated note to Lincoln, probably sent in May 1849, 
asked him to "tell Bond that Linder wishes John R. Jeffries ap- 
pointed Deputy to take Census for Coles/' 7 

Probably these Coles County friends attributed more political 
influence to Lincoln than he actually had, for as we have noted, 
he failed to receive the appointment he wanted for himself, 
despite his most vigorous efforts to block the appointment of his 
successful rival, Justin Butterfield of Chicago. 8 Lincoln prob- 
ably lost the appointment for the same reason that he failed to 
secure a renomination for Congress — his opposition to the Mexi- 
can War had made him, at that time, a liability to the Whig 
Party. His place in Congress was taken by Major Thomas L. 
Harris, a Democrat and a hero of the Mexican War. 

While Lincoln had opposed the Mexican War, Butterfield had 
not. According to Linder, Butterfield had held office in New 
York at the outbreak of the War of 1812. He had opposed the 
war and it destroyed his popularity, and "laid him on the shelf 
for many years/' When the Mexican War started, Butterfield was 
asked if he opposed that war, also. He replied, "No, by God, I 
oppose no wars. I opposed one war, and it ruined me, and 
henceforth I am for War, Pestilence and Famine/' 9 

In June 1849, Lincoln received a letter from two Charleston 
friends, Alexander P. Dunbar and William W. Bishop, warning 
him against "treachery in the camp." Writing on June 6, before 
the Butterfield appointment had been made, they reported that 
they had that day "heard U. F. L. [Usher F. Linder] dealing out 
glowing eulogies upon your competitor Butterfield and at the 
same time speaking very contemptuously of your friend Henry of 
Springfield." This reference was to Dr. Anson G. Henry whom 
Lincoln had recommended for a Land Office appointment. Dun- 
bar and Bishop reported that "B. M. [Byrd Monroe?] is busily 
working with U.F.L. this day and yesterday, but as B. M. holds 
his hand more closely than U. F. L. we only surmise what he 
is about. . . ." The writers warned Lincoln that if Linder and 
Monroe (?) "have not given you a written line of confidence," 
he could be assured that "it will be given against you" by pre- 

7 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 292. Justin Butterfield, in a letter to 
J. J. Brown, Springfield, June 7, 1849, refers to "Benj. Bond the recently 
appointed marshall." Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, vol. 
XXV, pp. 140-141. 

8 Thomas, 1847-1853, pp. 125-131. Butterfield was appointed on June 21, 
1849, while Lincoln was in Washington to promote his own candidacy for the 
job. Lincoln left Washington to return home on June 25. 

9 Linder, p. 87. 


judicing Senator Joseph R. Underwood of Kentucky, "if not 
against you, in favor of Butterfield." Both Dunbar and Bishop 
had written in behalf of Lincoln. Bishop had written and sent 
to Lincoln a letter to "the old General, the President, which 
letter please use, if convenient and proper in your estimation/' 10 

The writer has seen no other evidence that Linder was 
working against Lincoln's interests at this time, nor that Lincoln 
ever referred to the Bishop-Dunbar letter in any letter of his to 
Linder. Although Linder later became a Democrat, as late as 
1852 he campaigned for a Whig candidate for Congress, Orville 
H. Browning of Quincy. 11 In the fall of 1849, Linder in a speech 
in the legislature criticized Secretary of the Interior Thomas 
Ewing for having passed over Lincoln, and attacked Butterfield, 
who had received the appointment, as "one who avails himself 
of every opportunity to express his contempt of the people." 
This speech by Linder was printed in the Chicago Journal, and 
a copy reached Lincoln. Writing to the editor of the Journal on 
November 21, 1849, Lincoln showed a very generous attitude 
toward both Ewing and Butterfield. When Butterfield was ap- 
pointed, Lincoln "expected him to be an able and faithful officer," 
and nothing had since come to his knowledge "disappointing that 
expectation." Ewing also, Lincoln believed, "was an able and 
faithful officer." 12 

The surviving Lincoln correspondence seen by the writer 
contains no letters on political subjects between Lincoln and his 
Coles County friends for the years 1850-1853. When Lincoln 
was a candidate in 1854 for the U. S. Senate seat which finally 
went to Lyman Trumbull, his friend Thomas A. Marshall of 
Charleston wrote to him on December 8 of that year concerning 
Lincoln's chances of receiving the votes of the members of the 
legislature from the Coles County districts. Marshall offered 
to "get up a public meeting to instruct our Senators and Repre- 
sentatives . . ." to vote for Lincoln. 13 

In the campaign of 1856 Lincoln was a Republican elector. He 
spoke in Coles County at least once. He was among the speak- 
ers at a political rally in Charleston on August 8, 1856, held in 
behalf of Fremont and Bissell, Republican candidates for Presi- 

10 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 355. Bishop was a Whig newspaper 
editor, described by Lincoln as "a very clever fellow" in a letter to Herndon, 
February 1, 1848. Collected Works, vol. I, p. 447. Dunbar was a lawyer. 

11 Linder, p. 84. 

12 Collected Works, vol. II, p. 68. 

"Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 571. Lincoln, it will be recalled, 
was Marshall's lawyer in the case of Marshall vs. Laughlin (1855-1856) . 

Coles County Politics, 1849-1858 161 

dent and Governor. Nearly one thousand persons attended the 
meeting. 14 Referring to his campaigning for the Republican 
ticket in eastern Illinois at this time, Lincoln wrote to Lyman 
Trumbull from Springfield on August 11, 1856, that he had 

just returned from speaking at Paris and Grandview in Edgar County — 
& Charleston and Shelbyville, in Coles and Shelby counties. Our whole 
trouble along there has been & is Fillmoreism. ... I think we shall 
ultimately get all the Fillmore men, who are really anti-slavery exten- 
sion — the rest will probably go to Buchanan where they rightfully 
belong; if they do not, so much the better for us. 15 
Ex-president Millard Fillmore was the candidate of the "Native 
American" or "Know-Nothing" party in 1856. This was a "nati- 
vist" movement critical of the foreign-born and Catholics. James 
Buchanan was the Democratic candidate for president. 

Lincoln's Charleston speech on August 8 was in response to 
a request from his Coles County friends, particularly Thomas A. 
Marshall. On July 14, 1856, Marshall had written to Lincoln 
from Charleston: 

Our friends . . . insist that you must come and that soon. The work 
goes on finely but many are hanging back yet, & we think one of your 
speeches now will be worth two after a while. There will be a big 
circus here on the 24th and a crowd ready collected for you if you 
should come that day. You know all about circuses. They collect 
crowds, but not exactly the sort of crowd we want. Give us a week's 
notice if you fix any other day, and you shall have a fine audience. If 
we can have some assistance in the way of a few first-rate speeches, 
Coles will roll up a booming majority for Fremont. 16 

On September 17, 1856, Marshall again wrote to Lincoln, send- 
ing him the names of seventeen "Fillmore men" of Coles County 
"whom you probably could influence by writing to." Marshall 
noted that "Fillmoreism has developed itself rather more here 
since I saw you than before, but I still have high hopes of carrying 
the county. Our friends are active in every precinct, the warmest 
sort of fellows you ever saw." Marshall thought the Republicans 
in Coles County were "gaining ground daily." There had been 
"cheering news" from some of the counties south of Coles. 17 
Despite Marshall's optimism, the Fremont ticket ran third in 
Coles County. The county vote was Buchanan 1 187, Fillmore 796, 
and Fremont 783. 18 

There is a tradition in Mattoon that Lincoln spoke in that city 
in the spring of 1858, from a window at the south side of the 
Essex House, located at the crossing of the Illinois Central and 

u Illinois State Journal, August 13, 1856. Microfilm in Illinois State His- 
torical Library. 

15 Collected Works, vol. II, pp. 359-360. 

16 Herndon-Weik Collection, Group II. 

17 Herndon-Weik Collection, Group II. 

18 Moses, vol. II, p. 1208. 


the Terre Haute and Alton railroads. 19 The writer has seen no 
supporting evidence for this tradition. Lincoln did speak in 
Mattoon on September 7 of that year. This may have been the 
basis for the tradition. 

In 1858 Lincoln was a candidate for the United States Senate 
to succeed Stephen A. Douglas, a candidate for reelection. Since 
United States Senators (prior to 1913) were chosen by state legis- 
lators rather than by direct popular vote, Lincoln was interested 
in seeing that strong Republican candidates for the legislature 
were chosen, and that all possible support for them was secured. 
In April 1858, Lincoln wrote to his friend Marshall concerning 
the political situation in the state senatorial district in which 
Coles County was included. He wrote as follows: 

Urbana, Ills. April 23, 1858 
Hon: T. A. Marshall 
Charleston, Ills. 
My dear Sir, 

I wish you, G. W. Rives of Edgar, and O. L. Davis, of Vermillion, to 
co-operate in getting a Senatorial candidate on the track, in your 
District — Davis is here, and agrees to do his part — The adversary had 
his eye upon that district, and will beat us, unless we also are wide 
awake — Under the circumstances, a District convention may, or may 
not be the best way — you three judge of that — I think you better 
take some good reliable Fillmore men into conference with you, and 
also some person or persons from Cumberland. Indeed, it may appear 
expedient to select a Fillmore man as the candidate — I also write to 
Rives — I am most anxious to know that you will not neglect the 
matter, not doubting that you will do it rightly, if you only take 
hold of it — 

I was in Springfield during the sittings of the two democratic conven- 
tions day-before-yesterday — Say what you will, they are having an 
abundance of trouble — Our own friends were also there, in consider* 
able numbers from different parts of the State — They are all in high 
spirits, and think, if we do not win, it will be our own fault — So I 
really think — 

Your friend as ever 
A. Lincoln 20 

John H. Marshall of Charleston, now deceased, the son of 
Thomas A. Marshall, whote the following comment on the letter 
from Lincoln to his father: 

This letter reveals something of Mr. Lincoln's accurate knowledge of 
political conditions in this part of the State, and his political insight 
into practical methods. There were a large number of Clay-Fillmore 

19 Alexander Summers: Mattoon, Origin and Growth, 1946, p. 8. 

20 The original of this letter is in the possession of Mrs. John H. Marshall of 
Charleston, daughter-in-law of Thomas A. Marshall. Mrs. Marshall kindly 
permitted the writer to examine it. Mr. John H. Marshall, before his death, 
gave a copy of this letter and the comment on it which follows below, to Pro- 
fessor S. E. Thomas of the Eastern Illinois State College. Mr. Thomas gave 
this material to the writer. The copy and the original were compared by the 
writer for differences. There were none. Interview with Mrs. Marshall on 
May 12, 1949. This letter is printed in Collected Works, vol. II, p. 443. 

Coles County Politics, 1849-1858 163 

Whigs in this part of the State many of whom had not definitely affili- 
ated with either the Democrats or the new Republican party and both 
parties were making every effort to capture their votes. The great con- 
test was to elect men to the State Legislature who would vote for Mr. 
Douglas or for Mr. Lincoln for United States Senator. The Democrats 
nominated Usher F. Linder, a very capable public speaker, as their 
candidate for the State Senate from this district. The Republicans 
finally agreed upon Thomas A. Marshall as their candidate for the 
State Senate, and W. W. Craddock as their candidate for the Illinois 
House of Representatives. The Republicans went to work with enthu- 
siasm early in the campaign and before the time of the great debate 
here, September the 18th, had compiled a list of all the voters in the 
district, and the political affiliation of each. So that they knew all the 
Republicans, all the Democrats and all of the "doubtfuls" and where 
to find them. At the ensuing election the Republicans were successful 
in carrying the district and elected Marshall and Craddock to the State 
Legislature where they voted for Lincoln as United States Senator for 

Thomas A. Marshall replied to Lincoln's letter of April 23 on 

May 1, as follows: 

Charleston, May 1, 1858 
Dear Lincoln: 

Your favor of 23rd ult, came duly to hand. I would have written at 
once in reply [but] that really there was no occasion for a reply and 
moreover you were not at home and I did not know where you 
would be. 

I think we can carry our Senatorial and Representative District. The 
Fillmore men will generally vote with us, as many will vote for a Re- 
publican I think as would for a Fillmore man. That is all will go with 
us anyhow, except those who have made up their minds to turn 
Democrats and recent events have staggered even them, a good many 
of them I am confident. We can and will elect a Senator and a Repre- 
sentative who will vote for Lincoln for the U. S. Senate. 

For the rest, we have quite a warm feeling for Douglas, and if a 
resolution by the Legislature approving his course on Lecompton will 
do him any good I am for sustaining him in that way. 

Yours, etc. 

T. A. Marshall 21 

Regarding his own candidacy for the State Senate, Marshall 
wrote to Lincoln on June 2, 1858: 

My name has been announced as a candidate for the Senate — appar- 
ently with the concurrence of everybody we could expect to get, except 
my own — Our friends think that I am a hundred or two votes stronger 
in this county than anybody else, and that here is the principal fighting 
ground of the district. 22 

Although Lincoln in his letter of April 23 had not urged 
Marshall to be a candidate, there is a strong tradition that Lin- 
coln was responsible for Marshall's candidacy. Instead of making 
the suggestion directly to Marshall, Lincoln is supposed to have 

21 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 762. 

22 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 836. 


written to other Republicans of the district, suggesting that 
Marshall be the nominee. 23 

The June 2 letter from Marshall to Lincoln also contained 
some sage political advice. Among the prominent "Fillmore men" 
of Coles County was Dr. William M. Chambers of Charleston, 
who had moved to Charleston from Kentucky in November 1855. 
Marshall told Lincoln that Chambers would be in Springfield 
in a few days, and he suggested that Lincoln show Chambers 
some attention, such as calling on him at his hotel. Chambers, 
Marshall reported, was well disposed toward Lincoln and the 
Republican party. Moreover, he stated, Lincoln would find him 
a "very sociable and clever gentleman." A friendly gesture to- 
ward him "might have a good effect." 

It appears that Lincoln did not follow Marshall's suggestion 
concerning Dr. Chambers, for on July 22, 1858, we find Chambers 
writing to Lincoln from Charleston and referring to the fact that 
"personally we are not acquainted." In this "confidential" letter 
Chambers unburdened himself of his doubts regarding Lincoln's 
position, especially on the subject of slavery. Chambers was an 
old-line Whig who had supported Fillmore in 1856 in preference 
to the Republican Fremont. The letter was as follows: 

Hon. A. Lincoln 

Dear Sir — Personally we are not acquainted and possibly may never 
be but I find myself placed in a position where it is necessary to address 
you in this way lest the latter coming conclusion may be verified. 

I have just read your speech delivered at Chicago [on July 10] and 
desire to say something to you about it, but before doing so I will 
promise that I am a member of the American party and as such par- 
ticipated in the canvass of 1856 with the consciousness of defeat before 
me, activated by a desire to prove there was a conservative element in 
the government. I have ever entertained a political hostility to Judge 
Douglas, and perhaps there is no man with my humble capacity, who 
can entertain a more sincere desire to see him beaten in the coming 
contest than myself, — none who would do more in an honorable way 
than I will to accomplish his defeat. My opposition to him is based 
upon principle. I admire his talents and his genius, and would rejoice 
if I could have confidence in the man or have faith in his government 
policy, but I can not and therefore I want some man to defeat him. 
Since last winter I have not hesitated to avow myself in your favor for 
that position, feeling that we had not the man who could be run with 
any prospect of success. 

With this brief introduction I will proceed with my intention. 

I do not see any necessity for discussing the subject of slavery in a 
theoretical point of view, and very certainly we are not interested in its 
practical workings, unless you have determined to keep alive a sectional 
party; everything as I understand it, now tends to have a unified 
opposition to the administration, and to have a platform upon which 

23 Lincoln's part in the Marshall candidacy is stated in LeBaron, p. 526. 
Marshall ran in the 18th senatorial district, comprising Vermillion, Coles, 
Cumberland and Edgar counties. 

Coles County Politics, 1849-1858 165 

the Republican and American parties north and south can stand. I 
hope it is not your intention to thwart this movement. Less of the 
discussion and less of the favoring of negro equality will satisfy your 
friends in the extreme north part of the state, and you may rely upon 
it some explanation will be necessary to carry the south. For one I can 
not defend your positions as I understand them, and there are Repub- 
licans here who are getting very shy, and do not hesitate to condemn 
your course. I am an humble citizen, but take this liberty of thinking 
and speaking for myself, and no one is responsible but myself for what 
I say or do. 

If I advocate your claims, I do not want my opposition to Senator 
Douglas to be the only reason for doing so, and if to do any one thing 
political would be calculated to rejoice me more than any other one 
thing, it would be the means of explaining away some objectionable 
views expressed by you in your Chicago speech, and I must be allowed 
to say that unless some movement is made in that direction, I shall hold 
my peace upon the subject of the election. I have told Mr. T. A. 
Marshall that I will give him my support, and my Fillmore friends 
understand this, but under existing circumstances I can not urge them 
to do as I do. 

I am very sure that no action but to kindly suggest has prompted me 
in this matter, and to warn you that your position is dangerous to your 
success, and one that a large body of your fellow citizens, who are 
opposed to the Democratic party can not endorse. 

It is thought here by many of our warmest admirers, that [there] is 
no need of your letting Douglas place you on the defense, there is 
enough of his political inconsistencies and tergiversations to keep you 
busy a year, and I submit to you if it were not better to handle those 
than disturb the elements that are so kindly affiliating. 

Suit yourself about an answer to this, but I would suggest that if you 
can in any way defend your position by rendering it less objectionable 
to many devoted friends you had better fix an early day to come over 
to this part of the state. 

Please inform me if I may rely on your attention to this matter. 

Very respectfully your friend 
W. M. Chambers 24 

On July 22, the same day that Chambers wrote, Marshall also 
wrote to Lincoln. Chambers had shown Marshall his letter to 
Lincoln before mailing it. Marshall told Lincoln that Chambers 
really had some influence, and suggested that it would be wise to 
conciliate him if possible. Marshall outlined the kind of reply 
he thought Lincoln should make to Chambers: 

I would say something like this — for instance that as his letter does 
not specify the particular parts of the Chicago speech that do not meet 
his approval, you do not know exactly what part to explain and it 
would exceed the bound of a letter and take more time than you now 
have at your command to enter into a detailed defense of the whole. 
That you expect to visit Coles County during the canvass (which I trust 
is the case) and that then you will take occasion both in private and 
in public to make such explanations as will satisfy him. That you have 
been contending only for what you consider the fundamental principles 
of our institutions. That as for negro equality in the sense in which 
the expression is used you neither believe in or desire it. You desire to 
offer no temptations to negroes to come among us or remain with us, 
and therefore you do not propose to confer upon them any further 

24 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 1009. 


social or political rights than they are now entitled to. As a citizen of 
a Free State, as a member of Congress you would have no right to 
interfere with slavery in the states and you have no such desire and you 
consider the idea of changing the constitution so as to give Congress 
control over the subject of slavery in the states as impractical -and 
absurd. I think that some such letter as I have here sketched would 
satisfy the doctor and remove a good deal of trouble out of your way. 
Our enemies are preparing for a desperate fight. We must go into it 
with as little weight as possible. Unless they succeed in exciting some 
strong prejudices against us we are safe in the [this] quarter. 25 

The writer has not seen Lincoln's reply to Dr. Chambers. It 
probably has not been preserved. Evidently Lincoln satisfied him, 
for Chambers introduced Lincoln from the platform at the 
Charleston debate with Douglas on September 18. 

Marshall gave Lincoln practical political advice on other 
occasions during the campaign of 1858. On August 27 Marshall 
wrote from Springfield: 

Dear Lincoln 

Trumbull has made a list of appointments. He has made none for 
Danville. They need waking up there, if you have a chance it would be 
good for you to go there — ■. It would do much good, in fact I consider 
it very important for you to go to Moultrie. Trumbull has made no 
appointments there. He promises to go to Cumberland — but not at 
the court. These small counties ought to be attended to. The enemy 
pays special attention to them. I make these suggestions to you at the 
suggestion of the gentlemen here. I will see you when you come over 
to Paris. I have written to Mattoon that you will be there Tuesday 
morning September 7 — and leave when the train goes east. They will 
be in to see you that morning. 26 

In June 1858 the Democratic Mattoon Gazette attacked Lin- 
coln's record in Congress during the Mexican War, on the ground 
that he had refused to vote supplies for the soldiers in the field. 
An examination of the record of Lincoln's votes convinced the 
Gazette that its attack had been unwarranted, and the paper 
printed a long editorial in retraction. The Gazette concluded 
that Lincoln's record would "pass muster with the best men of 
any party during his congressional term." The Gazette gave this 
retraction "in no mincing way," and wanted it understood "that 
we intend the plaster to be as broad as the wound and that, so 
far as we have been instrumental in doing any injustice to Mr. 
Lincoln, we make the retraction fully." The Illinois State Journal 
reprinted the Gazette editorial under the caption "The Amende 
Honorable," with the comment that there was "an honesty, a 
heartiness, a nobleness in this retraction which commends it to 
honorable men everywhere." The Gazette's editorial, continued 

25 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 1011. 

26 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 1304. 

Coles County Politics, 1849-1858 167 

the Journal, came "like an oasis in the desert of dirty political 
wallowing" of the Douglas press in Illinois. 27 

Mattoon Republicans were eager for Lincoln to speak in their 
city. Douglas had spoken there during the last week of July and 
this increased the interest in a Lincoln meeting. On August 4, 
1858, Hiram W. Tremble wrote to Lincoln from Mattoon: 

Our Republican friends request me to say to you that they want you 

to pay them a visit and make them a speech in the town of Mattoon. 

I am sure that a speech from you in this place would do much for the 

party that you lead. S. A. Douglas was here last week and spoke for H/4 

hours to quite a respectable audience and at the conclusion of the 

speech the audience gave three cheers for Abe Lincoln. Now Abe, get 

your time that you will make us a speech and I will get you an audience 

that will do honor to any speaker. I want you to be fully prepared to 

give your views on the Dred Scott case and on the nigger Equality 

which your enemies charge upon you. There are numbers here that 

are wavering in their politics. Tonight we are organizing a Republican 

Club in this place. 28 

Another letter urging Lincoln to speak at Mattoon was written 

on August 16, 1858, by Robert Harvey, secretary of the recently 

organized Republican Club. Harvey suggested September 8 as 

a suitable date, and reported that 

Douglas has already addressed the people here and after Douglas had 
left the stand and three faint cheers were given, three cheers were pro- 
posed for Hon. Abe Lincoln & given with a hearty good will and 3 mo^e 
on top. We can get you an audience of 3 or 4000. Douglas had an 
audience of about 5 or 600 & most of them were Republicans. 29 

While still at Springfield, on August 29, 1858, Marshall wrote 
again to Lincoln, who was at Tremont, Illinois, on August 30. 
Marshall suggested a schedule which would make possible a 
Mattoon speech on September 7: 
Dear Lincoln — 

If you are able to stand the labor you must fill your appointments at 
Monticello and at Paris on the 6th and 7th. Get from Bloomington or 
Clinton to Monticello by private conveyance. Monday afternoon after 
speaking go to Bement. Take the night train to Tolono. The morning 
train will take you to Mattoon. There you will have to remain until 
one o'clock, a little late it is true but time enough if they know you 
are coming. By this plan you will be at Mattoon from 6 o'clock AM 
to one o'clock. While there you can give them a talk if you feel able 
to, and presuming that you will, and that you must be there at this 
time, I will write the Mattoon people and [let them] know it. If when 
you get there you can't speak, why you can show yourself. Douglas 
spoke at Mattoon, and it will have a good effect for you to speak there. 
If they know you will speak they can get you a good audience. Pros- 
pects are bright. 30 

27 Illinois State Journal, July 28, 1858. Microfilm, Illinois State Historical 
Library. The dates of the original Gazette article and of the retraction were 
not given. In 1860 the Gazette supported Lincoln. 

28 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 1155. 

29 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 1247. The letter is endorsed "Ansd." 
Lincoln's answer is not extant. Collected Works, vol. VIII, p. 455. 

30 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 1312. 


Lincoln spoke in Mattoon on September 7, the day suggested 
by Marshall. He left Mattoon for Paris that afternoon, arriving 
about three P.M., when he spoke again. 31 

As the correspondence between them shows, Lincoln and 
Marshall were political allies. They also were warm personal 
friends, and were welcome guests in each other's homes. Lincoln 
spent the night of September 18, 1858, following the debate, in 
the Marshall home, and also the night of January 30, 1861, on 
the occasion of his last visit to Coles County. It is probable that 
Lincoln was a guest of the Marshalls on other unrecorded oc- 
casions. The Marshall family preserve various incidents of this 
friendship. For example, on one occasion Mr. Marshall visited 
the Lincoln home in Springfield when the Lincolns, much against 
Mr. Lincoln's wish, were about to get ready to attend a party. 
Mrs. Lincoln had spread her party dress on a chair in the sitting 
room. Mr. Lincoln suggested, jokingly, that Mr. Marshall occupy 
the chair with the dress, thus rumpling it up, as he didn't want 
to go to the party. Mr. Marshall wisely refrained from disturbing 
Mrs. Lincoln's dress. 32 

Thomas A. Marshall was a native of Frankfort, Kentucky, 
where he was born on November 4, 1817. He was a nephew of 
Henry Clay, in whose home he was married. He moved to Coles 
County in 1839 and to Charleston in 1841. He became the owner 
of considerable land in Coles County and was active as a lawyer 
and as a banker. He was one of the organizers of the Republican 
party in eastern Illinois. In addition to serving two terms as a 
state senator, Marshall was the Colonel of the First Illinois 
Cavalry in the Civil War. 33 

A former Kentucky Whig, Marshall was conservative in his 
views on the issue of slavery, as is shown by his letters to Lincoln. 
Although opposed to slavery in principle and, in common with 
other Republicans, opposed specifically to its extension to the 
territories, Marshall was in no sense an "abolitionist" as that 
term was used in the 1850's. Coles County had been settled 
largely by Kentuckians. Marshall's views on the issues of the day 
were typical of those of many of the leading citizens of the county. 
With some notable exceptions, the Democratic party in Coles 
County drew its support from the less well-to-do. The former 
Kentucky Whigs were in many cases among the most extensive 

81 Angle, 1854-1861, p. 245. 

32 Statement to the writer by Mrs. John H. Marshall, May 12, 1949. 
33 LeBaron, p. 526. Information on the Henry Clay relationship given to the 
writer by Mrs. John H. Marshall. 

Coles County Politics, 1849-1858 169 

land owners in the county and among the most active professional 
men. For the most part they supported Lincoln in 1858 and 1860, 
although many of them had balked at supporting Fremont, the 
Republican presidential nominee, in 1856. Fillmore's "Native 
American" party in 1856 was in a sense a "way-station" for these 
former Whigs on their road to the Republican party. Marshall 
gave his support early to the Republican party, but was acutely 
aware of the appeal of "Fillmoreism" to many of his fellow ex- 

Reference has already been made to Usher F. Linder's response 
to the appeal for help from Senator Douglas during the cam- 
paign, an appeal which gave rise to Linder's nickname of "For 
God's Sake" Linder. When Linder responded to Douglas' appeal 
Lincoln's Charleston supporters promptly informed him. Arthur 
Compton, writing to Lincoln from Charleston on September 7, 
1858, reported that Linder, in response to telegrams from Douglas, 
had consented to join Douglas in his campaign, and that Linder 
had intimated that he would be "handsomely remunerated" for 
his services. 34 The next day M . C. McLain of Charleston reported 
to a Republican leader of Paris (where Lincoln had spoken the 
day before) that Linder had left that morning (September 8) on 
his mission to help Douglas, and asked that if Lincoln was still 
in Paris that he be informed of Linder's action, "that he may 
make such arrangements to meet the new feature in the contest 
as he may deem best." 35 

Among the letters Lincoln received during the 1858 campaign 
was a long and gossipy letter from Augustus H. Chapman, who 
wrote to him from Charleston on July 24, as follows: 
Dear Sir: 

Mr. Craddock, the Republican candidate for representative in Coles 
and Moultrie counties wishes me to write you for him and ask you to 
send him at your earliest convenience the most bitter speech that 
Douglas ever made in his best days against the Know Nothing or 
American parties. You know that in our district there is between 3 and 
4 hundred more American voters than there is Republican voters and 
Craddock thinks if he had one of Douglas' bitterest speeches against the 
American or Know Nothing Parties that he could use it to great advan- 
tage as John Monroe his Douglas opponent 10 is striving very hard to 

84 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 1374. 

35 To L. Munsell. Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 1382. On August 
16, 1858, Munsell had written to Lincoln from Paris urging him to take a 
more aggressive attitude toward Douglas, who was a "better tactician" than 
Lincoln, although Lincoln could vanquish him "in fair debate." Lincoln 
should "push" Douglas harder. Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 1249. 

30 Harvey B. Worley, not John Monroe, became the Douglas Democratic 
candidate for the state House of Representatives in the 25th representative 
district consisting of Coles and Moultrie counties. 



Abraham Lincoln in January 1861. 

This photograph was made by C. S. German in Spring- 
field on January 26, 1861, four days before Lincoln's 
last visit to Coles County. (From Meserve and Sand- 
burg: The Photographs of Abraham Lincoln. Photo- 
graph Number Thirty-four. Used by permission of 
Dr. Frederick Hill Meserve.) 

Coles County Politics, 1849-1858 171 

make the Americans believe that Douglas and his party have never 
been hostile to them at least not nearly as much so as we Republicans 
represent them to have been. If you can possibly send Craddock such 
a copy of one of Douglas' speeches do so by all means. I will guarantee 
he will make a judicious use of it. It affords me great pleasure to be 
able to say to you at this time that our prospects for success in the fall 
election for representative and senator are brightening every day and 
very fast and that we now feel certain of success almost beyond a doubt. 
At the meetings of our secret vigilance committee last night the reports 
were of the most encouraging character and w T e parted in glorious 
spirits. Several of the most bitter American leaders of our county came 
out this week for Douglas and openly avowed themselves Democrats 
from this time on. You can hardly form an idea at the storm which 
arose among the honest voters of the party. They curse these fellows 
loud and long denouncing them as Traitors and damd rascals in fact 
for anything that was mean and degrading and the way that the honest 
ones, the hopes of the party, flocked over to our side was truly astonish- 
ing, they . . . will do battle for us manfully from this time on. Nothing 
has happened for years that has done us so much good. These Scamps 
[who] would be leaders of the K N are now thank God where they 
could do us any [no] further harm, right where we wanted them. Col. 
John Coffee the American presidential Elector for this district during 
the last election has come out on our side and is doing all he can to 
advance our interest and let me tell you he is a host. All is peace 
among us, no rivalry or quarreling but all united and determined to 
win or die atrying while the Democracy are in confusion on all hands, 
quarrels, strife, bickering, stare them in the face at all points. It has 
been the intention of the Democracy to run Jim Robinson for Congress 
in this district but they have become so much alarmed at the enthusi- 
asm for Oglesby among their opponents that they are now trying to 
arrange it to run Aron Shaw, whether they can get it so arranged I 
know not but hope they can not for as Robinson is their candidate we 
think we stand a slight chance of beating him but if they run Shaw 
they will in all probability have the dead wood on us but will they run 
who they may we will give them the very best that we have in the 
locker. We think Tom Marshall's election is sure by from 3 to 5 hun- 
dred majority at least and we also intend to elect Craddock. If not by 
as big a majority over John Monroe. Craddock is the best stump 
speaker in our ranks in the Wabash valley and the Locoes fear him 
more than any other man we have in our ranks. We have our party 
better organized than we have ever had before [by] a long ways and 
you may expect to have a favorable report from Old Coles the day of 
the election. Dr. Win. Chambers a very prominent American leader in 
this country has not yet taken ground on either side. We are very 
anxious to secure him. He will write you soon if has not already 
done so and Tom Marshall will write you and post you in regard to 
what he wants, if you can consistently say anything to him that will 
have a tendency to bring him over to our side do so by all means. We 
are amaking the fight on slave and free white labor and not saying 
much about equality or anything of that kind. . . . :?7 

Your friends and relatives in this county are all well and prospering 
about as usual. Grandmother Lincoln is a member of our family and 
will continue to be [in] all probability until she dies. I often take my 
Republican papers and read extracts from them that eulogize you. 
You can hardly form an idea how proud that makes her. She often 

37 The reference to the Chambers and Marshall letters to Lincoln suggests 
that Marshall had discussed the situation with Chapman, perhaps because of 
Chapman's family relationship to Lincoln through his wife. 


says Abram was always her best child and that he always treated her 
like a son. I told her I was agoing to visit you today and she said tell 
him she sends a load of love to you and wants to see you once more 
very much. Harriet also sends love to you all. She has been quite 
unwell lately but is getting well slowly. She was confined about two 
weeks since and has not been very well since. We had a big fine son 
the last time but we lost our boy that was a baby when you were here. 
Lost our little son a year ago. No other news of interest. Hope Douglas 
comes out and makes us a speech this season [and] that you will do 
the same. 

Respectfully yours 
A. H. Chapman 38 

18 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 1029. 

The Charleston Debate 

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 18, 1858, was the biggest day in the 
history of Charleston, that quiet little county seat amid the corn- 
fields of eastern Illinois. It was the day that Abraham Lincoln 
met Senator Stephen Arnold Douglas in the fourth of their seven 
historic debates in the campaign for the United States Senate. 
Lincoln, "the first and only choice of the Republicans of Illinois 
for the United States Senate," did not gain a Senate seat, but 
more importantly, achieved a renown in these encounters w r ith 
the "Little Giant" that opened the road to the White House. 

The day before eager partisans had begun to stream into the 
little city. The two hotels were soon filled, and many hospitable 
householders opened their homes to bedless strangers. The city 
was abustle with preparations for the big day. Committees con- 
ferred, banners and signs were painted, and out at the fair grounds 
on the western edge of the city hammers pounded away on the 
speakers stand where the "Tall Sucker" and the Senator would 
cross oratorical swords on the morrow. 

Saturday dawned clear and soon became warm. As the time for 
early farm chores passed, small clouds of dust drifting along the 
roads to Charleston marked the progress of farm families coming 
to town for the big event. From the four corners of the county 
they came, wagons loaded with children, big hampers of food 
and jugs of cider to cut the dust of the road. The farmers of 
Coles County had come for the day. Dog Town, Bloody Hutton, 
Greasy Creek, Paradise, Muddy Point, Farmington, Goosenest 
Prairie — they were all present. Every rural neighborhood was 

1 The story of the Lincoln-Douglas debate at Charleston has been told in 
detail by Professor S. E. Thomas, emeritus head of the social science depart- 
ment of the Eastern Illinois State College at Charleston. His paper on the 
subject was first read at the semi-centennial celebration of the debate in 
Charleston on September 18, 1908. In 1924 it was printed as Bulletin No. 86 
of the College, S. E. Thomas: "Lincoln-Douglas Debate. A Narrative and 
Descriptive Account of the Events of the Day of the Debate in Charleston." 
The following description of the debate is taken from the account by Pro- 
fessor Thomas, except where otherwise noted. 



represented among the wagons that drew to a halt under the 
shade trees of the fair grounds. 1 

Both Douglas and Lincoln arrived at Mattoon on September 
17, 2 and spent the night in that city before coming on to Charles- 
ton for the debate the next day. 

Lincoln had ridden on the train from Centralia to Mattoon. 
Unlike Douglas, he did not have a special car or cars. Henry C. 
Whitney rode with Lincoln, and later told of the difficulty he had 
in obtaining a chance for Lincoln to rest in an unoccupied apart- 
ment in an "apartment car." 3 

Mr. William F. Cavins, who had talked with those who as 
youths had been in Mattoon on September seventeen, gives an 
account of Lincoln in Mattoon. Douglas had his headquarters 
at the Essex House, while Lincoln received his friends at the old 
Pennsylvania House. There was much visiting and planning for 
the parade to Charleston the next day. Some ten or a dozen 
curious lads lined up at the edge of the hotel porch to see Lincoln. 
He gave each a handshake, and observed to one lad, Jasper Miller, 
who was bare-footed, "Young man, I wish I could go bare- 
footed." 4 

The Republicans and Democrats, through a joint committee, 
had arranged for mammoth parades to come to Charleston from 
Mattoon. The Republicans were to follow the south road and 
the Democrats were to use the north road, thus avoiding collisions. 
Those living along the way were asked to join the procession of 
their party as it advanced toward Charleston. 

The Republican procession left Mattoon early in the morning, 
led by the "Bowling Green" band of Terre Llaute. As it moved 
along it was joined by numerous rural groups. Lincoln left Mat- 
toon a short time later, in a carriage drawn by a span of cream 
colored horses and driven by their owner, J. W. True. 5 Also in 
the carriage were James T. Cunningham and Deck Dole. Upon 
overtaking the parade the Lincoln carriage took the lead. Near 
Charleston a large local delegation, mounted on horseback and 
led by Thomas A. Marshall and H. P. H. Bromwell, joined the 
procession. A large float from Charleston, drawn by six or eight 

2 Chicago Press and Tribune, September 21, 1858, quoted in Edwin Erie 
Sparks: "The Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858," vol. Ill, Collections of the 
Illinois State Historical Library, 1908, p. 314. Cited hereafter as Sparks. 

'Whitney, Circuit, p. 410. 

'Cavins, p. 6. Rev. Jasper Miller wrote an account of this incident which 
was printed in the Lerna Weekly Eagle, May 22, 1930. In files of the Lincoln 
National Life Foundation, Fort Wayne, Indiana. The Rev. Mr. Miller was 
about twelve years old in 1858. 

The Charleston Debate 175 

horses, and decorated with white muslin and silk and wild flowers 
dominated the whole Republican demonstration as it entered 
the city. The float carried thirty-two white clad young ladies 
wearing green velvet caps, each representing a State of the Union 
by holding a banner with the name of that State. A large sign 
on one side of the float bore the words: "Westward the Star of 
Empire Takes its Way, Our Girls Link-on to Lincoln, Their 
Mothers were for Clay." On the other side of the float in large 
letters were the names of the Republican candidates: Lincoln, 
Oglesby (Congress), Marshall (State Senate) and Craddock (State 
House of Representatives). Kansas Territory was separately repre- 
sented by Eliza, daughter of Mr. Marshall. Dressed in white and 
mounted on a white horse, she flourished a banner that told the 
world "I Will Be Free." 

When the Charleston group met the Lincoln carriage, Mr. 
True gave up the driver's seat to James T. Cunningham. There 
is a local tradition that as the procession passed through the 
streets of Charleston, Mr. Lincoln saw his stepmother, Sarah Bush 
Lincoln, standing with others watching the parade. He halted 
his carriage, went over to her and spoke briefly and gave her a 
kiss before returning to his carriage. The procession reached 
Charleston about eleven o'clock and proceeded to the northwest 
corner of the public square. Here the formal reception took 
place, with Bromwell giving the address of welcome. Lincoln, 
standing in the carriage, thanked them for the cordial welcome 
and for "this beautiful basket of flowers," referring to the young 
ladies in the float. 

One of the thirty-two young ladies on the Republican float, 
then fourteen years old, wrote a description of the event in a 
letter to her sister sixty years later. The sister also had taken part 
at the age of twelve. Mrs. Rhoda Compton Shepherd wrote to 
Mrs. Nancy Compton Alexander on March 12, 1919. She first 
described the float used in the parade: 

Do you remember that the ship was trimmed with cedar from 
Father's yard, which made the red, white and blue with which it was 

5 According to James T. Cunningham of Mattoon, grandson of James T. 
Cunningham, his father John Cunningham told him many times that the 
Lincoln carriage and horses were owned by his father. John Cunningham, 
thirty years old in 1858, was present at the debate. The carriage horses were 
"Claybanks," the best in the county. The carriage was sold after James T. 
Cunningham's death for $256. Interview with James T. Cunningham, the 
younger, January 7, 1950. John Cunningham told James K. Rardin, publisher 
of the Charleston Daily News, that his father James T. had purchased the 
matched team of Claybanks from a member of the True family, and that John 
Will True drove the carriage in the procession, with James and John Cun- 
ningham also in the carriage with Lincoln. Issue of September 18, 1908. 


covered much more effective? Our double-decked wagon was built 
like a ship and called "The Ship of State." Our Motto on one side 
suggested by Lavina Baker's father was: "Westward the car of empire 
takes its way, the girls link on to Lincoln, their mothers were for Clay." 
I think the names of "Marshall and Craddock" were on the other side. 
The ship stood on the street, on the north side of the Postoffice opposite 
Father's old store. Nell Wilson (Nell McCrory) rode horse back with 
the Democratic girls who were also in uniform. Do you remember our 
uniform? White dresses with long red and blue sashes, fastened on 
the left shoulder and tied down on the right side. White hats with a 
deep fall of lace around the brim and a wreath of cedar around the 
crown. I was with the older girls on the lower deck and you with the 
younger ones on the upper deck. You were dressed as Goddess of 
Liberty, of which there were two, one at each end of the ship, holding 
a flag, because the judges could not decide between the beauty of your- 
self and Nora Strickland. Each of you had natural curls flying. We all 
sang at intervals, and I'm surprised to find I have forgotten what we 
did sing. 8 

Horace White, who was present as a reporter for the Chicago 
Press and Tribune, in his description of the Republican proces- 
sion referred to "one young lady on horseback holding aloft a 
banner inscribed, 'Kansas, I will be free/ As she was very good 
looking, we thought that she would not remain free always/' 7 

The Democratic procession used the north road. Douglas prob- 
ably did not ride with the procession, but came to Charleston 
from Mattoon with Mrs. Douglas on a special train he had been 
using in the campaign. This was the understanding of the joint 
committee. The Douglas train consisted of a baggage car, several 
coaches, and a flat car at the end, complete w r ith a small brass 
cannon, often used to announce the arrival of Mr. Douglas in a 
town. Arriving in Charleston, the "Douglas Special" probably 
was met by the local Democratic committee, who took Mr. and 
Mrs. Douglas in a carriage to join the procession advancing to- 
ward Charleston, and returned to the city leading the procession. 

The most striking feature of the Douglas procession was a band 
of thirty-two couples of young men and young women, mounted 
on horseback, and gorgeously attired. Sixteen carried American 
flags on hickory sticks, and sixteen carried flags on ash sticks, thus 
wishfully symbolizing the Union of Democrats and Whigs. The 
procession proceeded to the northwest corner of the square at 
Sixth (then Jackson) and Monroe (then Washington) streets, 
where Mr. Douglas was formally received by Orlando B. Ficklin. 

The Lincoln headquarters were at the Capitol House (or 
Johnson Tavern) at the northwest corner of the square, where 
the Linder Building now stands. Directly across Sixth street 

Letter in possession of Miss Dora Alexander of Charleston, daughter of 
Mrs. Nancy Compton Alexander. 
7 Quoted by Herndon and Weik, vol. II, p. 121. 

The Charleston Debate 177 

(then Jackson) was the Union House (or Bunnell Tavern) where 
Douglas had his headquarters. The Charleston National Bank 
occupies the site today. Mr. Lincoln stayed overnight as the 
guest of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas A. Marshall, then living on Mon- 
roe (or Washington) street, between Fifth (or West) and Sixth 

(or Jackson) streets. The Douglases were the overnight guests 
of Mr. and Mrs. Ficklin. 

The day of the debate was a gala occasion for Charleston. 
There were numerous brass bands and fife and drum corps in 
town, accompanying various delegations. Stores and residences 
were decorated with flags and banners. The visiting delegations 
carried signs proclaiming their political loyalties. Among the 
banners were those reading: "Edgar County Good for 500 Ma- 
jority for the Little Giant," "This Government Made for White 
Men — Douglas for Life," "Abe, the Giant Killer" and "Support 
Abraham Lincoln, the Defender of Henry Clay." A giant banner 
eighty feet long hung from the courthouse to a high building on 
the west side of the square. It read on one side: "Coles County 
400 Majority for Lincoln," while on the other side there was a 
picture of Lincoln as a young man standing in a wagon and 
driving an ox team. It was labelled "Old Abe Thirty Years Ago." 
According to local tradition, another Republican feature was 
a large wagon, drawn by five or six yoke of oxen, and bearing a 
large log of the proper length for making rails. As the wagon 
moved around the square two or three stalwart men split rails, 
using the old fashioned maul and gluts. The wagon bore a 
banner reading, "Vote for Honest Abe, the Rail Splitter, the Ox 
Driver and Giant Killer." The driver was Matt Glassco, who 
was nearly as tall as Lincoln. As the wagon passed Lincoln he 
called out to Glassco, "You, too, are up in the world some." 8 

Was this the origin of the "Rail Splitter" campaign label for 
Lincoln? In 1860, Glassco and others drove a team of thirty-two 
yoke of oxen hitched to an immense wagon to a Republican 
rally at Mattoon. It is possible that the purported 1858 incident 
actually was the 1860 affair, imperfectly remembered. Another 
item which, if true, would strengthen the 1858 tradition, is an 
alleged conversation between Lincoln and Thomas S. Dowling, 
son-in-law of Dennis Hanks, at the time of the Charleston debate. 
Dowling recalled, many years later, that he asked Lincoln, "Abe, 
did you ever split any rails in Coles County? I never knew you 
to do so, but I might have forgotten it." Lincoln is supposed to 

8 Professor Thomas obtained this account from Emmett Glassco, son of 
Matt Glassco. 


have replied, "No, I never split any rails here; of course I didn't, 
but it is a good advertisement for the campaign; let them go 
on/' 9 This incident, also, may relate to an imperfectly remem- 
bered conversation, perhaps on January 31, 1861, when Lincoln 
made his last visit to Charleston. 

Another 1858 rail splitting incident is attributed to the Free- 
port debate, held on August 27, some three weeks before that at 
Charleston. At the time of the unveiling of the statue, "Lincoln 
the Debater," at Freeport on August 27, 1929, a pamphlet was 
distributed which included an article w T ritten by Fred L. Holmes, 
author of Abraham Lincoln Traveled This Way. In this, Mr. 
Holmes relates that in 1922 he was told by Matt Trask, who had 
been present at the Freeport debate: "I remember how en- 
thusiastic the Lincoln men from Winnebago County were. Some 
of them rode around town on a wagon with a big log aboard, 
which they attacked vigorously with axes. Lincoln was a rail 
splitter, you know, hence the railsplitting stunt." 10 This incident, 
also, may relate to the 1860 campaign. 

Considering the publicity given to the "Rail Splitter" cam- 
paign label during the contest of 1860, it is quite possible that 
the three incidents described may actually have been associated 
with the later campaign. None of the contemporary newspaper 
accounts given in Sparks, or those seen elsewhere by the writer, 
refer to rail splitting as a campaign device in 1858. However, the 
three accounts by Glassco, Dowling and Trask, were independent 
of each other. It is possible, but not probable, that the "Rail 
Splitter" political label for Lincoln originated in the 1858 cam- 

Mr. Wayne C. Temple of the University of Illinois, after a 
careful study of the origin of the rail splitter political device, 
reports in 1954 that he "has been unable to locate a single pri- 
mary source confirming the use of the rail in 1858. ... In 1858 
Lincoln . . . was not yet the 'Rail Splitter'." Rather, Mr. Temple 
concludes, "The idea of associating Lincoln with rail splitting was 
born in 1860, the inspiration of Richard J. Oglesby . . . and John 
Hanks. . . ." n He probably is right. 

Before the debate, both Lincoln and Douglas took dinner at 
their respective headquarters, sitting down to table with the 

"Charleston Daily News, August 17, 1908. Statement made some years 
before by Mr. Dowling to the editor, James K. Rardin. 

10 Freeport' 's Lincoln. Pamphlet published by The Lincoln-Douglas Society, 
Freeport, 111., 1929, p. 13. 

11 "Lincoln's Fence Rails," in Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, 
Spring 1954, pp. 20-34. 

The Charleston Debate 179 

local party leaders and other political figures present for the 
occasion. 12 After dinner the crowd proceeded to the fair grounds 
where the debate was to be held. Processions were formed by 
both parties to accompany their champions from the square to 
the speakers' stand. The pro-Lincoln Charleston Courier de- 
scribed an incident which occurred when Douglas' carriage took 
its place in the Democratic procession. When the procession 
marshal asked that the Douglas carriage fall in line, the Senator 
stuck his big gray hat out of the carriage, and "with a face 
swollen with rage, or something worse," declared that if he could 
not be treated with respect, he would get out of the procession. 
The reason for this outburst of "celestial wrath" was a small 
banner along the line of march showing Lincoln, with uplifted 
club, felling the "Little Giant." The Courier commented, "Now, 
in the name of all the gods at once, upon what meat hath this 
our Caesar fed, that he has grown so great?" Lincoln passed 
without comment under a Douglas banner much more disgrace- 
ful. The Courier thought it "most wondrous strange" for Douglas, 
who had countenanced slanderous effigies of Henry Clay in his 
own papers, the Illinois State Register and the Louisville Demo- 
crat, to be shocked at the sight of Abe the Giant Killer. 13 

There were various estimates of the size of the crowd which 
assembled to hear the debate. The figures ran from ten thousand 
to twenty thousand. The lower figure is probably nearer the ac- 
tual number, which may have reached twelve thousand. 14 

A raised platform about 18 by 30 feet had been erected for the 
speakers, very probably located just about where the north end 
of the east grandstand now stands in the Coles County fair 
grounds. The platform faced east, and the crowd was massed to 
the north, east and south of the platform, with rough boards 
providing seats for a small part of the huge throng near the plat- 
form. Approximately sixty persons were seated on the platform; 
leaders of both parties, most of them from eastern Illinois. At 
least four newspaper reporters were on the platform, from Re- 
publican and Democratic papers of Chicago and perhaps other 

12 There is a tradition in the Sargent family that Lincoln was invited to 
jein them, in town for the debate, at their picnic dinner on the courthouse 
lawn. Mrs. Stephen Sargent sent her twelve year old son John to ask Lincoln 
to join them. He walked over to the Sargent family group and expressed his 
regrets. Letter, Samuel S. Sargent to the writer, November 12, 1951. 

13 Reprinted in Peoria Transcript, October 1, 1858, in Sparks, p. 325. The 
incident was doubtless much exaggerated by the Republican Courier. 

14 Estimates in contemporary newspaper accounts, reprinted by Sparks, 
range from 10,000 to 15,000. The Illinois State Journal for September 23, 
1858, said "not less than 12,000 present." 


cities. The Chicago Times (Democratic) had James B. Sheridan 
and Henry Binmore present. The Chicago Press and Tribune 
(Republican) had Horace White and a shorthand reporter, un- 
usual in 1858, Robert R. Hitt on the platform. 

Among the Charlestonians on the platform were Dr. William 
M. Chambers, who introduced Lincoln, Thomas A. Marshall, 
W. W. Craddock, H. P. H. Bromwell, Alexander P. Dunbar, 
Usher F. Linder, Orlando B. Ficklin, and Democratic postmaster 
Jacob I. Brown. Mattoon's platform guests included Elisha 
Linder, James T. and John Cunningham, Deck and Charles Dole, 
and Frederick, Simeon, Edmund and James True. Visiting 
dignitaries on the platform included Richard J. Oglesby of 
Decatur and Richard M. Thompson and John P. Usher of Terre 
Haute, Indiana. There were none of Lincoln's local relatives 
on the platform. Probably the local committee on arrangements 
did not consider Dennis Hanks, John J. Hall, A. H. Chapman 
and others of the Hanks-Hall families of sufficient importance 
politically to be recognized by being given platform seats. There 
were no ladies on the platform. This explains the absence of 
Mrs. Sarah Bush Lincoln. 

After the speakers had reached the platform two incidents 
occurred which revealed the strong partisan feelings of some of 
those present. Some of the more enthusiastic Republicans at- 
tempted to place a large banner showing Lincoln having Douglas 
on the ground, near the front of the platform. It was inscribed 
"Lincoln worrying Douglas at Freeport." The Democrats ob- 
jected to it, and vigorously demanded its removal. Lincoln 
noticed the commotion and requested the removal of the banner, 
saying, "Let us have nothing offensive to any man here today." 
At just about the time Lincoln started to speak, a group of 
Democrats pushed forward to the front of the crowd with a 
banner bearing a caricature of Lincoln and a negro woman, 
labeled "Negro Equality." The Republicans, in their turn, con- 
sidered this insulting. When demands that it be taken down 
were ignored, Joe Dole and Ed True jumped off the platform 
and tore the banner down. Both Lincoln and Douglas helped to 
quiet the resulting commotion. 

Lincoln opened the debate at 2:45 P.M. He spoke for one 
hour, followed by Douglas for an hour and a half. Lincoln 
closed the debate with a thirty minute rejoinder. 

Marshall and Chambers, in their letters of July 22, had warned 
Lincoln that emphasis on negro equality would cost him votes 
in eastern Illinois. In his very first remarks Lincoln assured his 

The Charleston Debate 181 

audience that he did not believe in the social and political 
equality of the negro with the white man; that he did not be- 
lieve negroes should be permitted to vote, or act as jurors, or 
hold office. He was opposed to racial intermarriage. Lincoln 
observed that there was a physical difference between the races 
which he believed would forever forbid them living together as 
social and political equals. This being so, while they remained 
together "there must be the position of superior and inferior/' 
and Lincoln, "as much as any other man" was "in favor of having 
the superior position assigned to the white race." 

In taking this position Lincoln was not being inconsistent. He 
had said almost the same thing at Ottawa four weeks before. 
When Douglas replied to Lincoln's opening speech he charged 
him with inconsistency in his treatment of the subject of negro 
equality in his speeches in northern and southern Illinois. This 
Lincoln denied in his reply to Douglas, and dared any fair- 
minded man to point out any difference between his speeches 
north and south. This denial was justified as far as the substance 
of his speeches was concerned. The difference between his re- 
marks at Chicago, Ottawa and Freeport, and at Jonesboro and 
Charleston on this subject was one of emphasis rather than sub- 
stance. 15 

Lincoln's attitude toward the negro in 1858 hardly fits our 
picture of Lincoln the "Great Emancipator" and friend of the 
negro. His views reflected the prevailing opinion of the white 
men of the North at that time, including, probably, the great 
mass of those opposed to slavery. Except in New England and 
on a limited basis in New York, free negroes could not vote, even 
in the northern states. The "Black Laws" of Illinois were not 
repealed until 1865, and negro suffrage in the state did not come 
until 1870. Lincoln was in step with public opinion on this 
subject in 1858. His experience as a war president led him to 
modify his views. A year before his death he favored suffrage 
for negroes of intelligence, and for those who had served in the 
Union army. 16 This illustrates Lincoln's capacity for growth, 
perhaps one of the most important of the characteristics which 
contributed to his greatness. 

An eye-witness account of the debate was written a quarter of 
a century later by former Governor Richard J. Oglesby, in a letter 

15 Sparks, pp. 102, 267-268, 300-301, 303-304. The text of the Charleston 
debate is in Collected Works, vol. Ill, pp. 145-186. 

10 Letter, Lincoln to Gov. Hahn of Louisiana, March 13, 1864. Collected 
Works, vol. VII, p. 243. 


to Isaac N. Arnold, Lincoln's friend and biographer. Oglesby 


I was present ... as a candidate for Congress. It was a grand occasion 
to all political parties of the day. To the Republicans it was a day of 
triumph and of glory. Douglas was manifestly tiring of the joint dis- 
cussion. Lincoln, on the contrary, like a precious stone in the rough, 
was growing constantly brighter and more brilliant by the attrition 
of the contest. Douglas was petulant. Lincoln was calm, grave, and 
impressive, like one who already feels the good of ambition attained, 
and making ready to accept and bear the just responsibility of victory. 
I remember the special incidents of the debate that day. . . . When 
Lincoln snatched Orlando B. Ficklin by coat collar and dragged him 
to the front of the stand to prove by him that the intimation by 
Douglas that he Lincoln had refused in Congress to vote supplies to 
our vol. [volunteers] in the Mexican War, "was a lie" — "Ficklin 
personally knows this to be a lie" too — Ficklin looked so surprised 
and the whole performance was so grotesque and unexpected every- 
body burst out into a roar of laughter which went far towards mollify- 
ing an irritation resulting from the mental conflict between the two 
great debaters. 17 

Oglesby referred to the incident when Lincoln sought Ficklin's 
testimony to prove that, by his votes in Congress for military 
supplies, he had supported the troops in the field, even though 
he was opposed to the Mexican War as a matter of policy. Lin- 
coln and Ficklin had both been members of the House of Repre- 
sentatives, 1847-1849. 

Many accounts of this incident give the impression tha L Ficklin, 
caught off guard, testified to the accuracy of Lincoln's contention. 
Actually, Ficklin dodged the issue very neatly. He did not deny 
Lincoln's statement, nor did he confirm it. Instead, Ficklin re- 
ferred to Lincoln's vote on a resolution which Lincoln had not 
mentioned. Lincoln was right in stating that he had supported 
the troops by voting supplies for them, but he did not prove it 
by Ficklin. Let us quote from the debate at this point. After 
bringing Ficklin to the front of the platform, Lincoln said, in 

I do not mean to do anything with Mr. Ficklin except to present his 
face and tell you that he personally knows it to be a lie [the charge 
that Lincoln voted against supplies for the troops] ! He was a member 
of Congress at the only time I was in Congress, . . . and he knows, as 
well as Judge Douglas, that whenever a dollar was asked, by way of 
compensation or otherwise, for the benefit of the soldiers, / gave all 
the votes that Ficklin or Douglas did, and perhaps more. 

Ficklin spoke up at this point. He said: 

My friends, I wish to say this in reference to the matter. Mr. Lincoln 
and myself are just as good personal friends as Judge Douglas and my- 
self. In reference to the Mexican War, my recollection is that when 
Ashmun's resolution [amendment] was offered by Mr. Ashmun of 
Massachusetts, in which he declared that the Mexican War was un- 

17 Letter, R. J. Oglesby to Isaac N. Arnold, Lincoln, Illinois, March 7, 1883. 
Tipped in Arnold, vol. I, facing p. 14 a. Copy in Chicago Historical Society. 

The Charleston Debate 183 

necessary and unconstitutionally commenced by the President — my 
recollection is that Mr. Lincoln voted for that resolution. 

Thus Ficklin avoided making any comment on the question of 

Lincoln's votes for the benefit of troops in the field. Lincoln 

resumed his address at this point, saying: 

That is the truth. Now, you all remember that was a resolution cen- 
suring the President for the manner in which the war was begun. You 
know they have charged that I voted against the supplies, by which I 
starved the soldiers who were fighting the battles of their country. I 
say that Ficklin knows it is false. 

Yes, Ficklin knew that this charge was false, but he adroitly 
avoided saying so when Lincoln brought him into the picture. 18 

Lew Wallace of Indiana, later famous as a Civil War general 
and as the author of Ben Hur, was one of the crowd assembled 
at the fair grounds to listen to the debate. Years later, in his 
autobiography, Wallace recalled that Douglas reached the plat- 
form first, worried and preoccupied, and ''niggardly in his recog- 
nition of friends. " Lincoln was smiling as he reached the plat- 
form, "a whole world of kindness in his eyes" as he bowed to 
acquaintances. Douglas' clothes were well tailored, while those 
of Lincoln "spoke of a slop-shop," his thin neck craning out over 
a sweat-wilted collar. Wallace noted that the crowd was un- 
usually quiet for a political meeting; those present were "palpi- 
tating with an anxiety too great for noise." When Lincoln rose 
to speak Wallace recalled that except for his "benignant eyes, 
a more unattractive man I had never seen thus the centre of re- 
gard by so many people." Lincoln's voice was clear without 
being strong, and "he was easy and perfectly self-possessed." A 
strong Douglas supporter, Wallace at first laughed at the un- 
couth Lincoln. But in ten minutes he quit laughing and soon 
he was listening breathlessly, wondering if Douglas "could in- 
deed be so superior to this enemy as to answer and overcome 
him." By the close of Lincoln's opening speech, Wallace had 
been converted to his thinking. He could not "get from under 
a conviction that Mr. Lincoln's speech was a defense of Freedom." 

Wallace was disappointed in Douglas' speech. "His face was 
darkened by a deepening scowl, and he was angry; and in a 
situation like his anger is always an admission in the other party's 
favor." Douglas spoke so gutturally that Wallace, who was stand- 
ing close to the speakers' stand, had difficulty in understanding 
him. Despite his predeliction in Douglas' favor, Wallace found 
that Douglas, his mind all logic, had no magnetism, and failed to 

'Sparks, p. 307; Collected Works, vol. Ill, pp. 182-183. 


draw him as Lincoln had done. Wallace did not stay to hear 
Douglas through. 19 

The huge crowd listened with close attention to both debaters. 
The speeches were punctuated by applause, quickly suppressed 
so that no words would be lost. The quiet was such that those 
sitting on the east and south fences of the fair grounds could 
follow the speakers. When Lincoln ended his closing speech he 
was cheered enthusiastically, following which the crowd dispersed, 
the bands of music and carriages forming impromptu parades 
back to town. Lincoln and Douglas left the platform side by 
side. Mrs. Douglas had been with Mrs. Ficklin during the debate, 
and returned to town in the Ficklin carriage. The handsome Mrs. 
Douglas wore a lavender checked silk dress and a pretty bonnet. 20 
Mrs. Lincoln was not in Charleston with her husband. 

After the debate Mr. Lincoln returned to the Capitol House 
before visiting his Charleston relatives, Dennis Hanks and family 
and the family of Augustus H. Chapman. Jesse W. Weik tells 
of a cutting observation concerning Douglas Lincoln is supposed 
to have made while chatting with friends at the hotel following 
the debate. Dillard C. Donnohue of Greencastle, Indiana, who 
was present, was Weik's informant. Lincoln was out of patience 
with Douglas because of his tactics during the debate, and did 
not conceal his irritation, according to Donnohue, who reported 
that he heard Lincoln say, referring to the presence of Mrs. 
Douglas with the Senator, that "I flatter myself that thus far my 
wife has not found it necessary to follow me around from place 
to place to keep me from getting drunk." 21 

Lincoln ate supper with the Chapmans. After supper both 

parties held political rallies. The Democrats used the court 

house, while the Republican rally, four times larger, was held 

on the southwest corner of the public square. 22 Horace White, 

the Chicago reporter, described the speakers at the party rallies: 

Richard J. Oglesby, the Republican nominee for Congress [afterward 
General, Governor and Senator], addressed one of them. At the Douglas 
meeting, Richard T. Merrick and U. F. Linder were the speakers. 
Merrick was a young lawyer from Maryland, who had lately settled in 

19 Lew Wallace: An Autobiography, vol. I, pp. 253-256. 

20 From letter of Mrs. Shepherd to Mrs. Alexander, March 12, 1919, previous- 
ly cited. Mrs. Douglas was Adele Cutts before her marriage. She was the 
daughter of J. Madison Cutts, the nephew of Dolly Madison. 

21 Weik, pp. 235-236. 

22 Illinois State Journal, September 25, 1858. The statement has been made 
that Lincoln ate a meal on this day with the family of Dennis Hanks, then 
living in the second story of a house on the west side of the square. Charles- 
ton Daily News, August 17, 1908. It is more likely that Lincoln had a meal 
with the Hankses the next day, Sunday. 

The Charleston Debate 185 

Chicago, and was a fluent and rather captivating orator. Under was 
an Old Line Whig, of much natural ability, who had sided with the 
Democrats on the breakup of his own party. 25 

After the rally on the square Lincoln and the other Republican 
leaders went to the Marshall home for a conference and an in- 
formal reception. The local band serenaded Mr. Lincoln. "The 
music was then heard under the windows of 'Kansas/ 'California/ 
'Iowa/ etc. far into the dangerous hours, and finally vibrated 
and throbbed itself to sleep." 24 

The party at the Marshall home lasted until after midnight. 
Eliza Marshall, daughter of the host, fifty years later retained a 
vivid recollection of the party gathering at her father's house, 
where Lincoln, Oglesby, John P. Usher, H. P. H. Bromwell 25 
and other leaders "certainly had a jollification that night." Eliza, 
age seventeen, "fully appreciated their feelings," which she had 
"imbibed" from her father. 20 And so, on a note of celebration, 
ended the day of the great debate in Charleston. 

Lincoln remained at the Marshall home as an over-night guest, 
according to Eliza Marshall. 27 Augustus H. Chapman in 1865 
wrote to Herndon that when Lincoln was in Charleston in 1858 
he spent the night at his house, and left at four in the morning. 
Mrs. Thomas Lincoln was living with the Chapmans at that time, 
according to Chapman, and she got up to see her stepson before 
he left. He gave her fifty dollars that morning, although Mrs. 
Lincoln assured him that she did not need it. 28 

Lincoln obviously did not spend the same night at two houses. 
Was Chapman confusing Lincoln's 1858 visit with that of 1861, 
when Lincoln spent his last night in Charleston with the Chap- 
mans? A more likely explanation is that Lincoln spent two 
nights in Charleston on his 1858 visit. The debate was on Satur- 
day and Lincoln spoke at Sullivan, Illinois, about thirty miles 
distant by road, on Monday. Where did he spend Sunday and 

23 Herndon and Weik, vol. II, p. 123. 

24 Illinois State Journal, September 25, 1858. 

25 Henry Pelham Holmes Bromwell (1823-1903), a native of Baltimore, 
moved to Vandalia, Illinois, from Cincinnati in 1850. He came to Charleston 
about 1857 and entered into a law partnership with U. F. Linder. He served 
in Congress as a Republican from 1865 to 1869, representing the seventh 
district which included Coles County. About 1870 he moved to Colorado. 

20 Letter, Eliza Marshall True (Mrs. J. W. True) to S. E. Thomas, Eureka 
Springs, Arkansas, August 12, 1908. In Library of Eastern Illinois State Col- 
lege, Charleston. 

27 Letter, J. W. True (husband of Eliza Marshall True) to S. E. Thomas, 
Eureka Springs, Arkansas, August 20, 1908. In Library of Eastern Illinois 
State College, Charleston. 

28 Chapman to Herndon, October 18, 1865. Herndon-Weik photostats, No. 


Sunday night? Angle in his day-by-day study of Lincoln for the 

years 1854-1861 has no entry for Sunday, September 19, 1858. 

James K. Rardin, of Charleston, giving John Cunningham of 

Mattoon as his authority, wrote in 1908 that on Monday Mr. 

Lincoln was driven from Charleston to Sullivan by John Will 

True in the same carriage and team used in bringing Lincoln 

from Mattoon to Charleston on the day of the debate. 29 If this 

account is accurate, it means that Lincoln spent Sunday and 

Sunday night in Charleston or its vicinity. Did he spend Sunday 

with his relatives, the Hankses and the Chapmans? It would have 

been a natural thing for him to do. If, as Chapman stated, Mrs. 

Lincoln was living at the Chapman home at the time, it is logical 

to assume that Lincoln spent Sunday night with the Chapmans. 30 

As he was scheduled to speak at Sullivan at two o'clock Monday 

afternoon, it was necessary for him to make an early start from 

Charleston, as he was going by carriage. Hence the four o'clock 

in the morning departure as related by Chapman. 

A daughter of Dennis Hanks, writing in 1901, claimed that 

Lincoln spent a night with the Hanks family at the time of the 

debate. Mrs. Amanda Hanks Poorman recalled: 

How angry my mother was when the Lincoln-Douglas debate occurred 
at Charleston. Everyone wanted to take Uncle Abe home or to some 
hotel or some other place of entertainment, and my mother and father 
had a hard time getting possession of him. . . . My mother would 
speak rather sharply to him, saying: "Abe, don't you let any of those 
people pull you away tonight. You come right straight back here. . . ." 
And he did stay with us. 31 

The writer has seen no other evidence placing Lincoln in the 

Dennis Hanks home as overnight guest at this time, for either 

Saturday or Sunday night. It is probable that after forty-three 

years Mrs. Poorman's memory was faulty. 

29 Charleston Daily News, September 18, 1908. 

30 Mrs. Sarah Jane Bowling, a sister of Mrs. Harriet Chapman, in a written 
statement dated Feb. 23, 1904, referred to a picture of Lincoln "now in 
possession of my sister, Mrs. Harriet Chapman, presented to her in 1858 by 
Uncle Abe. . . ." Thomas F. Madigan: A Catalogue of Lhicolniana, n.d., item 
96, p. 44. In Illinois State Historical Library. Mrs. Chapman told Professor 
Thomas that she asked Lincoln for his photograph when he was at her home 
at the time of the debate, and that he told her that he had none, but would 
send her one. Some months later she received a photograph by mail. Pro- 
fessor Thomas has seen this picture, which was identical with the one in the 
frontispiece of Sparks' edition of the debates. The statement under the 
picture in Sparks, that "evidence seems to show that the negative was made 
at Charleston, Illinois, during the Campaign of 1858," probably is in error. 
There was no photograph gallery in Charleston at that time, according to 
Mrs. Chapman.' Thomas, p. 3. The present location of Mrs. Chapman's 
photograph of Lincoln is not known to the writer. 

81 Article in St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 26, 1901. In Joseph Wallace scrap- 
book, pp. 508-512. In Horner Library, Illinois State Historical Library. 

The Charleston Debate 187 

On July 28, 1915, a stone marker commemorating the debate 
was placed on the Coles County iair grounds, near the highway. 
Unfortunately, the stone records the wrong date, September 28, 
1858, instead of September 18, 1858. The stone bears the in- 
formation that the fourth Lincoln-Douglas debate was "held 
on these grounds/' The stone is some distance from the site of 
the speakers' stand which on the day of the debate was located 
approximately two hundred feet southwest of the location of 
the marker. 

In the election on November 2, 1858, the Republicans elected 
their candidates to state office, 32 and received a majority of the 
votes cast for candidates for the General Assembly. The district 
apportionment, based upon the census of 1850, favored the Demo- 
crats, who elected 54 members to both houses to 46 for the Repub- 
licans. This insured the reelection of Douglas to the United States 
Senate. The Democrats elected five out of nine members of Con- 
gress, among them James C. Robinson of Marshall, who was 
chosen from the seventh congressional district consisting of Coles 
and fourteen other counties. Coles County Republicans were 
elected to the General Assembly from the districts in which Coles 
was included: the eighteenth senatorial district (Vermillion, 
Coles, Cumberland and Edgar) chose Thomas A. Marshall of 
Charleston. 3,3 The twenty-fifth representative district (Coles and 
Moultrie) chose William W. Craddock of Mattoon. 34 

Among those who wrote to Lincoln after the election was 
Henry P. H. Bromwell of Charleston. On November 5, Bromwell 
reminded Lincoln that he had "won a victory for the popular vote 
of Illinois" had sustained him, and he had "the applause of the 

32 State Treasurer, Miller, R., 125,430; Fondey, D., 121,609; Daugherty, 
"Danite" Democrat, 5,071. State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Bate- 
man, R., 124,556; French, D., 122,431. 

!:) Senator Marshall served for one term of four years, in the 21st and 22nd 
General Assemblies. Chosen as president pro tempore of the Senate in Janu- 
ary 1861, he acted as lieutenant governor for a week (January 7 - 14) , until 
the inauguration of Lieutenant Governor Francis A. Hoffman. Lieutenant 
Governor John Wood had become Governor in March 1860 upon the death 
of Governor William H. Bissell. Senator Marshall was a delegate to the 
Republican national convention of I860. From July 1861 to July 1862 he 
was colonel of the First Illinois Cavalry. Marshall's first state service had 
been as a member of the constitutional convention of 1847. 

34 The vote in Coles County was as follows: House of Representatives — 
Craddock, R., 1,777; Harvey B. Worley, D., 1,641. State Senate — Marshall, 
R., 1,847; Usher F. Linder, D., 1,560. Reference Report, Illinois State His- 
torical Library, December 27, 1949. Courtesy of Dr. J. Monaghan. The vote 
in Charleston was Marshall, 303; Linder, 332; Craddock, 301; Worley, 335. 
Charleston Daily News, September 18, 1908. 


whole Republican Host." The way seemed "paved for the presi- 
dential victory of I860." Lincoln had shown that he could carry 
Illinois "under the most unfavorable circumstances," and Brom- 
well looked forward with eagerness to the 1860 nominations, 
which would give Lincoln "a chance upon a wider field to meet 
our enemies where they cannot sulk behind gerrymandered Dis- 
trict lines to deprive you of the fruits of honest victory." Brom- 
well assured Lincoln that "the Republicans of this Region glory 
if you yet & will not rest while anything remains to do that 
they can to uphold you." 35 

A year later, on November 13, 1859, Bromwell wrote to Lincoln 
about the approaching presidential contest. He assured Lincoln 
that he had been a "Lincoln Man all over from the very first," and 
wanted to know if Lincoln was interested in a vice-presidential 
nomination. Bromwell expressed a desire to see Lincoln preside 
over the Senate with his recent opponent Douglas, a member, 
although Lincoln was his first choice for the presidency. Brom- 
well referred to a circular he had seen proposing a Simon Cam- 
eron-Abraham Lincoln ticket. He thought the order of names 
should be reversed. The importance of Pennsylvania was such 
that a Lincoln-Cameron ticket might be a good idea. 36 

Lincoln received an invitation to speak in Charleston during 
the winter of 1859-1860. A committee of the "Young Men's Liter- 
ary Association" of Charleston wrote to him on September 28, 
1859. His political friends Chambers and Bromwell were two of 
the three signers of the letter, which was as follows: 

Dear Sir: 

The undersigned were appointed to a committee by the "Young 
Men's Literary Association of Charleston" to select persons to deliver 
lectures the coming winter in our Town. 

Your reputation as a thinker and speaker has pointed you out as a 
very proper person to write, and in our capacity we very earnestly 
solicit you to accept this an invitation to deliver a lecture upon some 
subject (of your own selection) in our town sometime during the 
coming winter. 

You are aware we have not a city to boast of, but we have a town 
made up of an intelligent & appreciative people, and a large Hall to 
speak in, and will promise you a hearty welcome. 

If it is possible, please accept and fix some time for the purpose and 

35 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 1451. In Mearns, vol. I, pp. 221-222. 

36 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 2056. This letter would indicate 
that Bromwell didn't quite know just what he wanted for Lincoln. Lincoln 
probably got a good chuckle out of it. Simon Cameron of Pennsylvania (1799- 
1889) , was in the U. S. Senate 1845-1849; 1857-1861, and 1867-1877. He was a 
prominent candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 1860. 
President Lincoln appointed him Secretary of War, 1861-1862, and Minister 
to Russia, 1862. 

The Charleston Debate 189 

also the amount you will charge, and let us know as soon as it is in 

your power to do so. 

W. M. Chambers 
H. P. H. Bromwell 
L. B. Moore 37 

Lincoln's reply has not been seen by the writer. He did not 
come to Charleston during the winter of 1859-1860. In December 
he spoke in Kansas; and in February he went east, to speak at the 
Cooper Union in New York City, and in New England. Lincoln's 
political star was rising. When next he came to Charleston he 
was President-elect of the United States. 

The Republicans of Coles County were active in the 1860 
campaign. On April 21 a county convention met at Charleston to 
select delegates to the state convention which was to meet at 
Decatur on May 9 and 10. This meeting resolved that Abraham 
Lincoln was ''the first choice of the Republicans of Coles County 
for president of the United States." 38 

Following the nomination of Lincoln by the Chicago conven- 
tion on May 18, Republican rallies were held at Mattoon, Ash- 
more and Charleston. The meetings were addressed by Marshall, 
Bromwell, and other local Republicans. Five thousand people 
turned out for the Charleston rally on July 7. A night parade of 
"Wide Awakes," with four hundred torches, followed the meet- 
ing. Three bands played on the public square, and colored lights 
were strung on wires from the courthouse to surrounding 
buildings. 39 

The only correspondence between Lincoln and his Coles 
County friends concerning the 1860 election seen by the writer is 
a request for three dollars from the editors of the Mattoon Ga- 
zette on October 9, 1860. It was signed "Harding and Mclntyre." 

We as editors of the Mattoon Gazette have been advocating the Re- 
publican cause to the best of our ability since the opening of the 
campaign, and finding "Jordan a hard road to -travel" in financial 
affairs, hope you will excuse us for asking the fee which we charge 
candidates for the publication of their names — $3 — not for our 
editorial services. 

Your prospects in the county are flattering. 40 

Coles County gave Lincoln a slight plurality in 1860. The vote 
was: Lincoln, 1495; Douglas (Democratic party), 1467; Bell 
(Constitutional Union party), 79; Breckinridge (Southern Demo- 
cratic party), none. 

37 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 1946. 

38 Illinois State Journal, May 1, 1860. 

39 Illinois State journal, June 7, July 11, 1860. 

40 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 3952. 



•»•«-- nvaxN"3o 


The President-Elect Visits Cotes County 

MR. LINCOLN MADE a short visit to Coles County to see his 
stepmother on January 30, 1861, nearly two weeks before he left 
Springfield for Washington. He went by way of Tolono and 
Mattoon, changing trains at both places. The trip w r as made with 
little publicity, there being no reporters and no bodyguards with 
the President-elect. The round trip took three days, with two 
nights and one day being spent in Charleston and Farmington. 

Knowing the scheduled times for the trains he used in leaving 
Springfield and Mattoon, it is possible to construct a tentative 
time-table for the trip from Springfield to Charleston: 

9:50 A.M. Left Springfield on the Great Western Railroad. 

2:50 P.M. Arrived at Tolono, after a possible layover at Decatur. 

3:50 P.M. Left Tolono on the Chicago Express of the Illinois Central 
Railroad (estimated departure time) . 

5:15 P.M. Arrived Mattoon (twenty minutes before scheduled de- 
parture of the Express from Mattoon at 5:35 P.M.) . 

5:40 P.M. Left Mattoon on a freight train of the Terre Haute, Alton 
and St. Louis Railroad. 

6:15 P.M. Estimated time of arrival at Charleston. 

The total elapsed time was eight hours and twenty-five minutes, 
including a wait of one hour between trains at Tolono and a 
wait of twenty-five minutes at Mattoon. 1 The writer has seen no 
account of how Lincoln spent the time between trains at Tolono. 
The short wait at Mattoon was spent at the Essex House. 2 This 
hotel was located at the crossing of the two railroads, and served 
meals to train passengers. A twenty minute stop for this purpose 
was customary. It is not unlikely that Lincoln ate supper while 
waiting for the freight to leave for Charleston at 5:40 P.M. He 

1 Springfield departure time from Reference Report to the writer, Illinois 
State Historical Library. Courtesy of Dr. H. E. Pratt, State Historian; Tolono 
schedule from a letter to the writer from Mr. C. C. Burford, Urbana, Illinois, 
May 15, 1951; Mattoon departure time of express train and freight train, 
Mattoon Gazette, February 1, 1861. 

2 Mattoon Gazette, February I, 1861. Mr. Burford informs the writer that 
"the Champaign County Gazette does not mention Lincoln traveling through 
Tolono January 30 - February 1, when he was President-elect, although it 
gives considerable attention to the special "inaugural train" of February 11. 



probably ate lunch while the train from Springfield was waiting 
at Decatur. 

The writer is indebted to Mr. C. C. Burford of Urbana for 
interesting details concerning train schedules and operating prac- 
tices during this period. Excerpts from Mr. Burford's informative 
letter follow: 

The passenger trains on all roads made very slow time in 1861. The 
running time between Champaign and Chicago was approximately 
eight hours. Freights took longer, of course, especially way freights. 
Yet, they were a possibility. . . . We must recall that locomotives in 
1861 burned wood for fuel. There were many delays to /'wood up," 
with passengers assisting in the process. The Great Western used to 
"wood up" at Sidney, southeast of Champaign. Possibly the long time 
required to move from Springfield to Tolono was partly caused by the 
stop in Decatur to "wood up. . 

My opinion is that the train routes of Lincoln, Springfield to Charles- 
ton and return, can be only partly substantiated. We have so little 
material upon which to build. ... I am wondering if Lincoln did not 
keep plans on his Charleston trip secret, as the same plots against his 
life were active January 30 as they were ten or twelve days later. We 
must recall that the special inaugural train was preceded by a pilot 
engine. There was wide publicity on the special train. Also, there 
were many Southern sympathizers south of Charleston and Mattoon, 
which may explain partially why there is so little source material 
available on the January 30 trip. 3 
As Mr. Burford states, there was little publicity about the trip. 
Apart from his "family, it appears that Lincoln gave advance 
notice of his plan for the trip only to Senator Marshall, who 
accompanied him. The Springfield papers referred to the trip 
only after he had left for Charleston, and after his return to 

Lincoln's purpose in avoiding publicity on this trip to see his 
stepmother, was, in all probability, a desire to get away for a few 
days from the endless stream of office-seekers who had been dodg- 
ing his steps in Springfield. It is doubtful if he gave a thought to 
possible danger from southern sympathizers. 

Who accompanied Lincoln for all or part of the way to Charles- 
ton? His friend Senator Tom Marshall was with him both going 
and returning. There is some uncertainty as to Lincoln's other 
fellow-passengers when he left Springfield. The Illinois State 
Register for January 31, 1861, reported that "Mr. Lincoln with 
Honorable Edward Bates of St. Louis and several leading Repub- 
licans of this and other states left here for Coles County yester- 
day." The similar notice in the Illinois State Journal of the same 
date did not mention the names of any of Lincoln's companions. 
John M. Lansden, a student at Illinois College at Jacksonville, 
was on the train when Lincoln boarded it at Springfield. More 

3 Letter to the writer, May 15, 1951. 

The Pr est dent-Elect Visits Coles County 193 

than half a century later Mr. Lansden recalled that Lincoln, who 
took a seat near him, was accompanied by Judge David Davis and 
Judge Edward Bates. Lansden did not mention Senator Marshall. 
He recalled that Lincoln told humorous stories to his companions, 
punctuated by hearty laughter, and that when the train passed 
through Macon County, Lincoln spoke of his rail splitting there 
thirty years before. 4 

The most detailed account of Lincoln's departure from Spring- 
field on the morning of January 30 was written by Henry C. 
Whitney, who accompanied him part of the way (if not all) to 
Tolono before leaving the train to return to Springfield. Whitney 
states that Lincoln's other companions when he boarded the train 
were Senator Marshall and Judge John Pettit of Indiana, former 
United States Senator (1853-1855) and Territorial Chief Justice 
of Kansas (1859-1861), who was seeking an appointment from 
Lincoln. Whitney did not mention Davis or Bates. 

Whitney met Lincoln at his home and walked with him to the 

depot. He described Lincoln on this occasion as wearing 

a faded hat, innocent of a nap; and his coat was extremely short, more 
like a sailor's pea-jacket than any other describable garment. It was 
the same outer garment that he wore from Harrisburg to Washington 
when he went to be inaugurated. A well-worn carpet-bag, quite 
collapsed, comprised his baggage. 

Whitney, as he tells the story, secured a pass for Lincoln at the 
depot. Lincoln waited for the train in the railroad superinten- 
dent's office. After boarding the train, Whitney recalled, "Lincoln 
took pains, though not with ostentation, to secure an humble old 
lady, whom he knew, a double seat." 5 

When Lincoln boarded the Illinois Central train at Tolono it 
is probable that only Senator Marshall remained of those who 
had left Springfield with him. At Tuscola Joseph G. Cannon, a 
young lawyer then a resident of that town, entered the coach 
where Lincoln was riding; and rode with Lincoln and Marshall 
for the short distance from Tuscola to Mattoon. Near the close 
of his long career, "Uncle Joe" Cannon recalled this brief encoun- 
ter. Lincoln, despite his recent election, was "the same cordial 
unassuming" person and "was of course the most distinguished 
man on the train and he was constantly surrounded by people 
who wanted to shake hands and have a word with him." Lincoln 
was just one of the day coach passengers. "He had no body-guard, 

4 John M. Lansden: "Abraham Lincoln, Judge David Davis and Judge 
Edward Bates," in Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, April 1914, 
p. 58. 

5 Whitney's account is quoted in Starr: Lincoln and the Railroads, pp. 164- 
168. A shorter account is in Whitney, Life, vol. I, p. 294. 


and Senator Tom Marshall of Coles County was his only travel- 
ing companion/' 6 After Cannon (who first met Lincoln in May 
1860, at the Republican State Convention at Decatur) met them 
on the train, Senator Marshall remarked to Lincoln that Cannon 
had made many speeches in Lincoln's behalf in eastern Illinois. 
Lincoln replied "I hope they were good ones, and of course they 
were." This Cannon did not deny. 7 

Lincoln's arrival in Mattoon was noted in the local paper which 
was issued two days later. Editor W. P. Harding headed the item, 
which appeared on the second page, " 'Old Abe' Loose." Hard- 
ing wrote: 

Mr. Lincoln, who seems to have made a temporary escape from the 
office seeking host at Springfield, passed through this place last Wednes- 
day evening. He came in on the regular evening train from Chicago, 
and went on the freight to Charleston, from which place we under- 
stand from Hon. T. A. Marshall, who accompanied him, he will soon 
return to Springfield. Thinking it none of our business what Mr. 
Lincoln's business in Charleston was, we made no inquiries; and having 
seen him frequently, we concluded that as we wanted no office and 
could get none even if we did, we would not impose our presence upon 
him during his short stay at the Essex House. The large crowd, of all 
parties, which collected on the platform, were evidently delighted to 
see him, and he greeted his old friends as cordially as though he were 
simple friend Lincoln and not the most noted personage in the civilized 

Since writing the above we learned from the papers that Mr. Lincoln 

is on a visit to his step-mother, whom we will lay a wager he found 

in less time than it took for Douglas to "find his mother." 8 

In light of the twentieth century attitude toward public figures 

by newspaper men, it is interesting to note that Editor Harding 

considered it no concern of his why Lincoln went to Charleston. 

Lincoln and Marshall rode the freight train to Charleston 

because otherwise they would have had a wait of over six hours 

until the next passenger train. It was not because they had missed 

a connection. They reached Mattoon about 5:15 P.M., and the 

next eastbound passenger train was not scheduled to leave until 

11:35 P.M. The freight, however, left at 5:40 P.M. 

Busbey, pp. 115-116. It is possible that John Hanks joined Lincoln and 
Marshall when the train reached Decatur and went with them to Charleston. 
After Lincoln's death Hanks told Herndon that Lincoln wrote to him of the 
visit, and that he, Hanks, joined him for the trip at Decatur. Herndon and 
Weik Mss., group III, No. 3913. None of the other first-hand accounts of the 
Charleston trip refer to John Hanks as one of the party. Lincoln on January 
28 had invited Hanks to accompany him. Collected Works, vol. IV, p. 181. 

7 Joseph G. Cannon: / Knew Abraham Lincoln. An address delivered in 
Danville, Illinois, October 20, 1922. Pamphlet, Danville, 1934. 

8 Mattoon Gazette, February 1, 1861 (Friday). The reference to Douglas 
finding his mother was to a campaign trip Douglas made to New England 
in the summer of 1860, ostensibly to visit his mother in Vermont. His many 
political speeches on the trip caused the Republicans to poke fun at his use of 
a journey of filial devotion for campaign purposes. 

The President-Elect Visits Coles County 195 

A Charleston lawyer, James W. Connolly (later a major in the 
Civil War) told Jesse W. Weik in later years about Lincoln's 
arrival at Charleston. Hearing that Lincoln was coming to the 
city, Mr. Connolly went to the depot to witness his arrival. He 
recalled that: 

When the train finally drew in and stopped, the locomotive was about 
opposite the station and the caboose, or car which carried the pas- 
sengers, was some distance down the track. Presently, looking in that 
direction, we saw a tall man wearing a coat or shawl, decend from the 
steps of the car and patiently make his way through the long expanse 
of slush and ice beside the track as far as the station platform. I think 
he wore a plug hat. I remember I was surprised that a railroad 
company, with so distinguished a passenger aboard its train as the 
President elect of the United States, did not manifest interest enough 
in his dignity and comfort to deliver him at the station instead of 
dropping him off in the mud several hundred feet down the track. In 
addition to myself quite a crowd of natives were gathered on the plat- 
form to see him. . . . There were no formalities. Lincoln shook hands 
with a number of persons whom he recognized or who greeted him, 
and in a few minutes left for the residence of a friend, where, it was 
understood, he was to spend the night. 9 

A. H. Chapman, in an account of Lincoln's 1861 visit written 
to Herndon on October 8, 1865, stated that Lincoln was accom- 
panied to Charleston from Springfield by Senator Marshall, that 
they missed the train connection at Mattoon, and reached 
Charleston on a freight train, arriving about nine P.M. He said 
they went to Marshall's residence. 10 Chapman erred on two 
points. Lincoln did not miss a train connection at Mattoon, and 
he probably arrived in Charleston shortly after six o'clock. 

The friend referred to by Mr. Connolly at whose home Lincoln 
spent the night was Senator Marshall. 11 There is a tradition in 
the Marshall family that Lincoln spent the night in their home. 
The handsome cherry bed in which he slept has been preserved 
as a family heirloom. 12 A story of this overnight visit by Lincoln, 
preserved as a family memory, is that Lincoln put his shoes out- 
side his bedroom door to be polished by a servant, and that Eliza 
Marshall (later Mrs. James W. True of Mattoon), and a friend, 
Olive True (later Mrs. Gould of Mattoon) walked up and down 
the hall in them, so that they could say they had walked in the 
President's shoes. 13 Eliza Marshall was about nineteen years old 
in January 1861. 

9 Weik, pp. 294-295. Note that he did not mention Marshall. 

10 Herndon-Weik Photostats, No. 420. 

11 The Illinois State Journal, February 2, 1861, in a brief description of 
Lincoln's Charleston visit, noted that "He reached Charleston on Wednesday 
evening, and spending the night at Senator Marshall's. . . " 

12 Mrs. John H. Marshall of Charleston kindly showed this bed to the 
writer on May 12, 1949. 

13 Told to the writer by Mrs. Marshall. 


Where was the Marshall home located in 1861? Professor 
Thomas, in his careful study of the Lincoln-Douglas debate, 
locates the Marshall home in September 1858 as "where the Rich- 
ter block now stands on Monroe street," 14 or between Fifth and 
Sixth streets. Mrs. Marshall informed the writer that the Mar- 
shall home in 1861 was on the west side of what is now Tenth 
street, north of Harrison street, and set well back from both 
streets. A picture shows a large and handsome southern style 
house, reflecting the Kentucky birth of its owner, with four large 
white columns reaching from the porch to the roof, two stories 

Accepting the Monroe street residence of the Marshalls in 1858, 
the question remains, when did the family move to Tenth street? 
Mrs. Eliza Marshall True (in the 1908 letter to Professor Thomas 
concerning events in 1858, to which we have referred) also wrote 
of her father having experienced serious financial losses at the 
outbreak of the Civil War, due to investments in southern rail- 
roads. Financial reverses in 1861 would point to Mr. Marshall 
having acquired the handsome house on Tenth street prior to 
that date. 15 

Chapman in 1896 told Jesse W. Weik, when describing his trip 
to Farmington with Lincoln the day after the latter's arrival in 
Charleston, that Lincoln "had spent the previous night at my 
house. . . ." 16 This statement must be rejected. Chapman con- 
fused the nights of January 30 and 31. 

Considering the time required to go from Charleston to Spring- 
field in 1861, and the full program that Lincoln had in Charleston 
and Farmington on January 31, it is clear that Lincoln of neces- 
sity spent two nights in Charleston. After returning to Charleston 
from Farmington with Chapman (according to the latter in 1865), 
they "proceeded to my residence . . ." and Lincoln "left this 
place Wednesday morning at four o'clock to return to Spring- 

es. E. Thomas, p. 11. As noted before, Monroe street then was known as 
Washington street. 

15 Professor Thomas states that his information on the location of the Mar- 
shall residence is based on an interview with Judge John H. Marshall and his 
older brother, Colonel James Marshall, sons of Thomas A. Marshall. As a 
young man Colonel Marshall had attended the Chicago Convention that 
nominated Lincoln for the presidency. These two, when talking of the events 
surrounding the debate in 1858, agreed that the family did not move to Tenth 
street until about a year later — in 1859 or early in 1860. 

10 Quoted in Thompson, p. 33. Weik interviewed Chapman on January 3, 
1896. Colonel Chapman died in Charleston on September 11, 1898. Coles 
County Death Register, vol. I, p. 192. He was 76 years old. He was survived 
by his widow and three children; Robert, John, and Ella. 

The President-Elect Visits Coles County 197 

field. Hon. Thos. A. Marshall again accompanied him." 17 Chap- 
man would hardly have mentioned that Lincoln left at four A.M. 
unless he had been his guest. 

The writer is convinced that Lincoln spent the night of Jan- 
uary 30 with the Marshalls, and the following night with the 
Chapmans, who at that time lived in the 400 block of Jackson 
(then Lafayette) street. As President-elect, Lincoln would be glad 
of the chance to give recognition to his friend and political ally, 
Senator Marshall, by accepting his hospitality. But his visit to 
Coles County was primarily a family matter, and therefore it was 
natural for him to spend his second night in Charleston at the 
home of Chapman, son-in-law of his stepsister, Elizabeth Johnston 
Hanks, where his relatives and connections would be- more likely 
to visit him. 

Sometime during his brief stay in Charleston, Lincoln visited 
at the home of Dennis Hanks. Mrs. Rhoda Compton Shepherd, 
then sixteen years old, later described how she met Lincoln at 
that time. Writing to her sister, Mrs. Nancy Compton Alexander 
on March 12, 1919, Mrs. Shepherd recalled: "Do you remember 
after Lincoln was elected President and came back to Charleston 
Father took us to Dennis Hanks' home, upstairs on the west side 
of the square, to shake hands with Lincoln and told us what it 
would mean to us some time in the future. . . ." 18 

But to return to Mr. Connolly's account. After seeing Lincoln 

arrive, Mr. Connolly was invited by A. P. Dunbar, a lawyer who 

knew Lincoln well, to go with him when he called on Lincoln "at 

the residence where the latter was expected to spend the night." 

After the supper hour they called on Lincoln. Dunbar was in 

some doubt as to the degree of formality that would be called for 

in talking to the President-elect, even though they were old 

friends. But Lincoln settled that question promptly. As told by 

Mr. Connolly to Jesse W. Weik: 

When we reached the house the family were still at the supper table, 
but Mr. Lincoln himself had withdrawn and was in the front room 
sitting before the fire. In response to our knock the door opened and 
who should step forward to greet us but Lincoln himself. Grasping 
Dunbar's outstretched palm with one hand and resting the other hand 
on his shoulder, he exclaimed in a burst of animation, "Lord A'mighty, 
Aleck, how glad .1 am to see you!" That broke the spell; and if any 
stiffness or formality was intended it disappeared like magic. I was 
introduced and presently we were all sitting together and facing the 
fire. Lincoln did most of the talking. He was cheerful and communi- 

17 Chapman is wrong about the day of the week. Wednesday was January 30. 
Lincoln left Charleston on the morning of Friday, February 1. Chapman's 
letter to Herndon, October 8, 1865, in Herndon-Weik photostats, Nos. 422-423. 

18 Letter in the possession of Miss Dora Alexander, niece of Mrs. Shepherd. 


cative. After an exchange of ideas and recollections of the past with 
Dunbar, he was soon telling stories. Apparently there was a flood of 
them, one following another and each invariably funnier than its prede- 
cessor. It was a novel experience for me. I certainly never before heard 
anything like it. I shall never forget the one story which he had 
evidently reserved for the last, for he announced that it was the strang- 
est and most amusing incident he had ever witnessed. I knew it would 
be interesting and was, therefore, all attention. It was about a girl 
whose duty it was to find and drive home the family cow. "One day," 
said Mr. Lincoln, "she rode a horse bareback to the woods. On the way 
home the horse, frightened by a dog or something which darted from 
behind a bush, made a wild dash ahead, the girl still astride when 
suddenly — " at this point Mr. Lincoln halted a moment, for some one 
was knocking at the door. He stepped across the room and opened it, 
there stood the Presbyterian preacher, his wife, and two other ladies. 
Of course Mr. Lincoln had to suspend his narrative. Meanwhile other 
callers arrived and in a short time the house began to fill with them, 
whereupon Dunbar and I decided to withdraw. As we made our way 
downtown, Dunbar, well knowing what an admirer of Douglas I was 
inquired: "Now that you have seen and heard the long-legged individ- 
ual whom our friend Douglas defeated for Senator, what do you think 
of him?" I had to confess that he was a marvel — a charming story 
teller and in other respects one of the most remarkable men I had ever 
listened to. "But he was guilty of one thing I shall never cease to 
regret," I added. "What was it?" he asked. "He failed to relate the 
closing chapter of that last story," I answered. 19 

Chapman in 1865 told Herndon that while at Senator Mar- 
shall's house that first evening, "hundreds called to see him. He 
was also serenaded by the Brass and String Band of the town, but 
declined making a speech." 20 An account of Lincoln's Charleston 
visit, written many years later by Eli Wiley of that city, records 
that soon after Mr. Lincoln reached the Marshall home: 

a few young Germans appeared there, with some stringed instruments 
to give the President a serenade. They came into the room and played; 
while they did so, Lincoln stood near them, seeming to be more in- 
terested in the music than any other person present. After this, an 
hour was spent in social converse. 

Wiley recalled that on this occasion Mr. Lincoln told one of his 
typical anecdotes. Dr. W. M. Chambers was one of those present 
to greet the President-elect. He said to Lincoln that he had a 
message for him from a mutual friend, Pete Miller. Miller, a 
Democrat, had asked Chambers to tell Lincoln that, although he 
had not voted for him, he believed that Lincoln had been law- 
fully elected; and that, if anybody attempted to prevent his 
inauguration on March 4, he "would shed the last drop of his 
blood" in support of Lincoln's claim. With a twinkle in his eye, 
Lincoln replied to Chambers: 

Perhaps he would be like the young man who was going to war, whose 
two loving and admiring sisters had made an embroidered belt for him 
to wear, and when they had it completed, they asked him what motto 

30 Weik, pp. 296-297. 

20 Herndon-Weik photostats, No. 420. 

The President-Elect Visits Coles County 199 

they should put upon it, "Victory or death?" "No, no," savs he. "don't 
put it quite that strong. Put it 'Victory or get hurt pretty bad.' M21 

After his night at the home of Senator Marshall, Lincoln went 
early the next morning to the home of Dennis Hanks for break- 
fast. Again there were crowds who were eager to see him. After 
breakfast Lincoln and Chapman left in a two-horse buggy for 
Farmington to see Lincoln's stepmother who was at that time at 
the home of her daughter, Mrs. Matilda Johnston Hall Moore. 
Chapman reported that they had difficulty crossing Kickapoo 
Creek because of the ice in the stream. He recalled that his con- 
versation with Lincoln on the drive to Farmington 

was mostly concerning family affairs. Mr. Lincoln spoke to me ... of 
his stepmother in the most affectionate manner. Said she had been his 
best friend in this world and that no man could love a mother more 
than he loved her. He also told me of the condition of his father's 
family at the time he married his stepmother and the changes she made 
in the family and of the encouragement he, Abe, received from his 
stepmother. He spoke on the road of the various men that had sup- 
ported him during the canvass and said he thought Caleb B. Smith [of 
Indiana] had done him more service than any public speaker. Spoke of 
his father and related some amusing incidents of the old man, of the 
bull-dog biting the old man on his return from New Orleans, of the 
old man's escape when a boy from an Indian who was shot by his Uncle 
Mordecai. Spoke of his uncle Mordecai as being a man of very great 
natural gifts. Spoke of his stepbrother John D. Johnston, who had died 
a short time previous in the most affectionate manner. 22 

An amusing incident which occurred on the drive down to 

Farmington was related by Mrs. John Gordon many years later. 

The Gordons had moved to Pleasant Grove Township in 1861. 

Their land was wooded, and much clearing was needed. Mrs. 

Gordon recalled that: 

One day when I was out with an axe cutting some sapplings, Gus 
Chapman and Abe Lincoln came driving along. I did not know Lin- 
coln. He said to Gus, "Well, if she was my wife, I wouldn't claim her!" 
I told him that he was putting on style with his stove pipe hat and 
talking about his betters, and that maybe the clothes on his back had 
not been paid for. Gus, he just haw-hawed like he would burst. He 
told Lincoln that "She knows how to work, Abe, they know how to 
make a clearing." . . . We finished our cabin that spring. . . , 23 

At this time Mrs. Sarah Lincoln was living at the home of her 
daughter because, according to John J. Hall, the Goosenest 

21 Article signed by Eli Wiley and dated Charleston, 111., February 8, 1888, in 
clipping from unnamed and undated newspaper (probably the Charleston 
Courier) in scrapbook belonging to Mr. and Mrs. I. H. Johnston, Charleston, 

22 Chapman to Herndon, October 8, 1865. Herndon-Weik photostats, No. 
422. Actually, Johnston had been dead for nearly seven years. 

23 Letter from Mrs. John Gordon, printed in Charleston Plaindealer, about 
1897. Clipping, no date, in scrapbook belonging to Mrs. W. E. Cottingham 
of Charleston. 


Prairie cabin was temporarily untenantable. The chimney had 
collapsed the day before Lincoln's arrival. 24 

Mrs. Sarah Louisa Hall Fox, daughter of Mrs. Moore, who was 
nineteen years old and was present in Farmington at the time of 
Lincoln's visit, many years later recalled that after Lincoln 
reached the Moore home he continued on to the Goosenest 
Prairie farm, where John J. Hall, her oldest brother, was living. 25 
According to Mrs. Fox, Lincoln talked to Hall before leaving for 
the cemetery at Shiloh. Mrs. Fox's account also places Mrs. Lin- 
coln at her daughter's home at the time of Lincoln's visit. 20 

Although Hall told Mrs. Gridley in 1891 that Mrs. Lincoln 
was living at her daughter's at the time of Lincoln's visit, in a 
statement made to George E. Mason about 1906 he insisted that 
Mrs. Lincoln was living with him at the Goosenest Prairie farm 
at the time. Mason quoted Hall as saying that Lincoln "came 
down from Charleston early in the morning and came to the old 
house. I recall it so well that he had to take off his tall hat and 
stoop when he entered the room where grandmother was waiting 
for him." Lincoln took his stepmother in his arms, and "she 
cried over him. She told him that day it would be the last time 
she would see him, and he tried to pacify her. 'Why, mother?' he 
asked, and she said, 'Abe, you are such a good man that they will 
kill you.' He only laughed." As Hall told it to Mason, Mrs. 
Lincoln was brought from the Hall cabin to her daughter Matil- 
da's home in Farmington, where after a big dinner Lincoln said 
goodby to his stepmother. 27 

Hall's statement to Mason that Mrs. Lincoln was living at 
Goosenest Prairie when Lincoln made his visit is supported by 
the recollection of Mrs. Caroline M. Newman of Charleston, who 
was eight years old in January 1861, and who lived in Farmington 
until 1873. She was the daughter of Dr. N. S. Freeman of Farm- 
ington. Sixty-eight years later she recalled that Lincoln "came 
down to Farmington with Col. A. H. Chapman, and they went 
to the log cabin and brought his stepmother to the home of Mrs. 
Matilda Moore, a daughter of Mrs. Lincoln." 28 

24 Hall to Mrs. Gridley, 1891. Gridley, p. 276. While Mrs. Lincoln was away, 
Hall repaired the chimney. 

25 Chapman stated that after greeting his stepmother at Mrs. Moore's home, 
Lincoln and Chapman "proceeded to the residence of John Hall on the old 
Lincoln farm. . . ." Letter to Herndon, October 8, 1865. Herndon-Weik 
photostats, No. 420. 

20 Clipping from St. Louis Globe-Democrat, December 12, 1933. In files of 
Lincoln National Life Foundation, Fort Wayne, Indiana. 

27 Account by George E. Mason in undated clipping in scrapbook belonging 
to Mrs. Walton Alexander of Charleston. Hall died in 1909. 

The President-Elect Visits Coles County 201 

Despite the statements by Hall in 1906 and Mrs. Newman in 
1929, the writer believes that Mrs. Thomas Lincoln was living 
with her daughter Matilda in Farmington, at least temporarily, 
in January 1861. After Thomas Lincoln's death in 1851, his 
widow lived for various periods with relatives. Among these 
probably were the family of John Sawyer in Paradise, that of her 
granddaughter, Mrs. Harriet Chapman in Charleston, and those 
of her two daughters, Mrs. Dennis Hanks in Charleston and Mrs. 
Matilda Moore in Farmington. As Mrs. Lincoln became older 
she frequently sought more comfortable living quarters than were 
possible at Goosenest Prairie, especially in the winter. In January 
1861, Mrs. Lincoln was seventy-two years old. 

At the time of Lincoln's visit Matilda was about fifty-one years 
old and a widow. Following the death of her first husband, Squire 
Hall, on October 5, 1851, Matilda had married a widower, Reu- 
ben Moore, on June 19, 1856. 29 His first wife, Mary, had died on 
August 24, 1855. Moore died on June 23, 1859, age sixty-one. 30 
After her second husband's death Matilda ran into legal trouble. 
On September 24, 1859, a Farmington (or Campbell, as the vil- 
lage also was called) neighbor of Mrs. Moore, named L. Burlin- 
game, wrote to Lincoln: 

Mrs. Matilda Moor wife of Ruban Moor deceased wishes you to come 
down and help defend a case in court. Moor died and fixed all of his 
property so that the widow is left to shift for herself. Mr. Clark C. 
Starkweather is employed to defend the case and wants you to come 
and help him. Court commences the first Monday of October. By re- 
quest of Matilda Moor. 31 
Lincoln did not act as an attorney in this case, which came up 
in the April 1860 term of court with Charles H. Constable and 
Usher F. Linder representing Mrs. Moore. They may have acted 
at Lincoln's request. The case was an application for dower, the 
defendants being John L, Adams, Lewis Enyart, Miles Moore, 
Lewis E. Moore, Almira Moore and Giles Moore. The last three 
were minors, and the defense attorney, James R. Cunnigham, 
was appointed trustee for them. What Matilda had done was to 
bring suit for her dower right against the heirs of Reuben Moore, 
including the children by his first wife and Giles Moore, her son. 

28 Clipping from Lerna Weekly Eagle, August 2, 1929, in files of Lincoln 
National Life Foundation, Fort Wayne, Indiana. Mrs. Newman's recollection 
may have been based on what she had heard Hall say. 

29 Coles County Marriage Records, 1849-1861, p. 116. 

30 Dates for Squire Hall and Mary and Reuben Moore from their gravestones 
in Shiloh cemetery. Hall may have died of cholera. The Charleston Globe, 
July 31, 1851, reported that cholera had broken out in Goosenest Prairie. 
Four deaths had occurred. Courtesy of Dr. Harry E. Pratt. 

31 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 1931. Farmington, or Campbell, 
was surveyed into lots on April 25, 1852. 


Continued in April 1860, the case was settled on the following 
October 27. Mrs. Moore won her suit. She was to receive $600 in 
lieu of her dower interest, or failing that, one third of the land 
in Moore's estate. This consisted of 231 1^ acres and four lots in 
the town of Farmington. 82 

Matilda's marriage to Reuben Moore had not been harmoni- 
ous. The record shows that prior to his death Reuben and his 
wife had agreed to a separation, and that she had contracted to 
accept $600 as her share of the property they owned as man and 
wife. According to the record, Moore destroyed this contract 
which Matilda had agreed to, and in his will he sought to cut 
her off from any share of his estate. 

The settlement to Mrs. Moore included the Moore house in 
Farmington, for we find her living there in January 1861. Ac- 
cording to local tradition, some time after 1861 Mrs. Moore dis- 
posed of the house and moved to a one-room log cabin in the 
same village, across the road from the school and south of the 
residence of Dr. N. S. Freeman. She supported herself by taking 
in washing. 33 

But to return to Lincoln's visit. As his vehicle neared Farm- 
ington, it was recognized by Andrew H. Allison, who lived about 
one mile northwest of Farmington. Mr. Allison was on horse- 
back. After recognizing the distinguished occupant of the buggy, 
he wheeled his horse and spurred up in order to get to the Moore 
house in time to give Mrs. Lincoln and Mrs. Moore word that 
President-elect Lincoln would soon be there. 34 

With the roads in poor shape, Mr. Allison was able to make 
much better time than the Lincoln buggy. It is the family tradi- 
tion that the buggy contained Lincoln, John Hanks of Decatur, 
and a driver. No mention is made of Chapman. John Hanks 
himself told Herndon that after Lincoln's election, "He wrote me 
a letter that he was going to see his mother — came by Decatur — 
I went with him — saw his father's grave. He stayed w r ith his 
mother one [day]. We ate dinner at in [sic.] Farmington. Pretty 
women there that took Abe's eyes — I assure you. We then went 
back to Charleston — Sc came to Springfield." 35 This is contra- 

32 Circuit Court Record, vol. VI, pp. 204, 460-462. 

33 Clipping, Lerna Weekly Eagle, August 2, 1929, in scrapbook of Mr. George 
P. Rodgers of Pleasant Grove Township. 

34 Tradition of the Allison family. Told to the writer by Mr. Andrew Berry 
Allison of Charleston, age 84, son of Andrew H. Allison. Mr. Allison died in 
September, 1952. 

35 Undated statement, John Hanks to W. H. Herndon. Herndon and Weik 
Mss., group III, No. 3913, photostat from Library of Congress. See letter, 
Lincoln to Hanks, January 28, 1861, in Collected Works, vol. IV, p. 181. 

The President-Elect Visits Coles County 203 

dieted by Chapman's account of the trip from Springfield which 
mentions only Senator Marshall as a companion of Lincoln when 
he reached Charleston and by Cannon's statement about meeting 
Lincoln and Marshall, "his only traveling companion/' on the 
train at Tuscola. 30 

Lincoln and Chapman (and John Hanks?) reached Farmington 
about tw r o hours before dinner time. After greeting his step- 
mother and stepsister, Lincoln, accompanied by Chapman, took 
advantage of the time to visit his father's grave at Shiloh, about 
a mile to the west, going by way of Goosenest Prairie. While 
Lincoln was on this errand of filial piety, which we have previ- 
ously described, Mrs. Moore and Mrs. Lincoln took stock of the 
pantry. Finding it inadequate for a dinner for so eminent a guest 
and the many friends of the neighborhood who w r ould like to sit 
dow r n to dinner with him, Mrs. Moore called on her neighbor 
Mrs. N. S. Freeman for help. 37 Mrs. Freeman responded gener- 
ously, and passed the word among the housewives of the village, 
with the result, according to Mrs. Fox, who w r as present, that they 
"brought their nicest cakes and pies, baked turkeys and chick- 
ens." 38 How the good ladies of Farmington must have bustled 
about when they realized that they had a chance to help prepare 
a dinner for the President-elect of the United States! How the 
feathers did fly as the choicest poultry of the village was hurriedly 
readied for the stove. The casual passerby would have realized 
that something was afoot in the usually quiet village — the hur- 
ried and animated backdoor consultations, and the smoke pour- 
ing with unaccustomed urgency from the kitchen chimneys! 

By the time Lincoln and Chapman (and John Hanks?) re- 
turned to the Moore house a large crowd of friends and neighbors 
had gathered to greet the great man. The local school was dis- 
missed by the teacher, R. H. Osborne, and the school children 
gathered with their teacher to shake the hand of President-elect 

3o p ro fessor S. E. Thomas informs the writer that he was told by Robert N. 
Chapman, son of A. H. Chapman, that his father and Lincoln were alone in 
the buggy and that Chapman drove. Robert N. Chapman was postmaster of 
Charleston at the time of his father's death and for a number of years there- 
after. Edwin David Davis, in his article "The Hanks Family in Macon County, 
Illinois" in Papers in Illinois History, 1939, pp. 112-152, states that ''after the 
election John Hanks went with Lincoln to pay a farewell visit to Sarah Bush 
Lincoln in Coles County. Augustus H. Chapman met them in Charleston 
and drove them to the farm and also to Thomas Lincoln's grave." pp. 137-138. 

37 Lerna Weekly Eagle, August 2, 1929, quoting statement by Mrs. Caroline 
M. Newman, daughter of Mrs. Freeman. 

38 Clipping in St. Louis Globe-Democrat, December 12, 1933. The writer 
doubts that any freshly baked turkeys were brought to the festive board. It 
takes much longer than two hours to bake a turkey. 


Lincoln. Among these pupils were George T. Balch, age 18; 
Caroline Freeman, age 8; Jasper Miller, George T. Rodgers, 
William D. Allison, age 7, Thomas Allison, age 9, Emma Allison, 
age 10 and Mary Ann Allison, age 12 (children of Andrew H. 
Allison), Elizabeth Walls, age 12, and William ("Buck") Best, 
age 6, who on his death at Greenup about 1947 was the last sur- 
vivor o£ those who greeted Lincoln on this occasion. 39 

Emma Allison, later Mrs. B. D. Miner, had recently injured her 
right hand in a sorghum mill accident, and her right arm w r as in 
a sling. She presented her left hand to Lincoln, who noticing her 
trouble, stooped and kissed her. Mrs. Miner in relating this inci- 
dent many years later added that Lincoln told the children that 
he would rather be in their places than in his. 40 Elizabeth Walls 
in later years recounted how after Lincoln had gone into the 
house she and the other little girls put their feet in his overshoes 
which he had left outside the door. 41 

In addition to the school children there were many adults 
present. Mrs. Fox recalled later that there were present "people 
from every walk of life there abouts, ministers and railsplitters 
come right from the wood." Lincoln stood beside the door and 
shook the hand of each one as they passed into the house for 
dinner. Mrs. Moore opened the doors of the living room and "set 
tables clear from one end of the house to another/' The tables 
consisted of planks placed on saw-horses. 

Among those present in addition to Lincoln, Chapman and 

the children already mentioned, were: 

Mrs. Sarah Bush Lincoln. 
Mrs. Matilda Moore, her daughter. 

Mrs. Sarah Louisa Hall Fox, Mrs. Moore's daughter, married the pre- 
ceding August to Merrill Fox (1839-1881) . 
John Johnston Hall, Mrs. Moore's son. 

Joseph Hall, his younger brother, later in Co. G, 54th Illinois Infantry. 
R. L. Osborne, local schoolmaster. 
David Dryden, Osborne's father-in-law. 
Isaac Rodgers. 

Andrew H. Allison. His wife was in St. Louis on a trip at this time. 
Rufus Allison. 
Fred Bidle (or Biddle) , local blacksmith. 

39 Information from Mr. Andrew B. Allison; Mr. George P. Rodgers; Cavins, 
p. 5; R. H. Osborne in Lerna Weekly Eagle, Lincoln Anniversary issue, Feb- 
ruary 1928. 

40 Clipping, paper not stated, August 16, 1929, in scrapbook of Mr. George 
P. Rodgers; Cavins, p. 5. George T. Rodgers, one of the children present, in 
later years confirmed this incident. Statement to the writer by Mr. George P. 
Rodgers, grandson of George T. Rodgers, who lived until 1925. 

41 Written statement to the writer by Mr. Fred Grant of Mattoon, a son of 
Mrs. Elizabeth Walls Grant. April 1949. 

The President-Elect Visits Coles County 205 

The ladies of the neighborhood who had helped prepare and serve the 
dinner, probably including Mrs. Rodgers, Mrs. Dryden, Mrs. Rufus 
Allison, and Mrs. N. S. Freeman. 

This list probably is incomplete. John Hanks may have been 
present, as he told Herndon. At any rate, the small Moore house 
was crowded on that Thursday afternoon, January 31, 1861. 
Fred Bidle (or Biddle) was an interesting person. He left Ger- 
many to come to the United States in order to avoid military 
service, yet after the outbreak of the Civil War he enlisted and 
served in the 123rd Illinois Infantry. Andrew H. Allison demon- 
strated his devotion to Lincoln. In the election of 1864, despite 
inclement weather, poor health, and a protest by his wife, he 
rode two miles to the polling place to vote for Lincoln. Return- 
ing home after a day at the polls, he took to his bed and in two 
weeks was dead. 42 

School teacher Osborne later recalled his memories of Lincoln's 
visit. Although "it was a quiet, private visit," with no advance 
notice, "all the people flocked to see 'Our Abe' as he was fondly 
called. The young ladies took possession of the house and vied 
with each other in providing entertainment for the man whom 
all loved." Among his friends and relatives, "Mr. Lincoln was 
simplicity itself. He seemed to enjoy it so much that his face was 
continually lit up with a sunny smile. All were at their ease." 
Osborne was introduced by his father-in-law, David Dryden, 
with the remark that Osborne had been beaten for circuit clerk 
in Clark County. A kindly smile came to Lincoln's face as he 
said to Osborne. "You must pick your flint and try it again." 
Osborne recalled that he "sat down by him in friendly converse 
about various things as though we were old friends." Some 
matches were lying on the table. Lincoln picked one up and said 
"What a blessing these little pieces of wood are, what a royal 
invention. What a blessing for the common people." 43 

After the dinner, according to Mrs. Fox, the visitors left and 
Lincoln "had a long talk with his old stepmother, my mother, 
and myself. . . . When he bid his mother farewell, she embraced 
him in her arms and said 'My dear boy, I always thought there 

42 Information concerning Mr. Bidle and Mr. Allison from Mr. Andrew B. 
Allison, May 1949. Frederick G. Biddle is listed as a private in Co. I of the 
123 Infantry in A. G. R., vol. VI, p. 412. Mr. Allison was about 43 years old 
at the time of his death in 1864. The 1850 census returns for Coles County 
list him as 29 years of age. 

43 Osborne's recollections were reprinted in the Lincoln Anniversary supple- 
ment to the Lema Weekly Eagle, February 1928. In 1891 John J. Hall told 
Mrs. Gridley an anecdote about Lincoln's visit at Farmington which turned 
on the importance of matches. Gridley, p. 277. 


was something great in you. With this war coming on, I am 
afraid you are going to have a hard time.' He said, 'Don't worry. 
Everything will come out all right.' " 44 

Mrs. Newman's account of the visit of Lincoln states that: 

When it became generally known that the President-elect was in the 

village, school was dismissed; many assembled to give him welcome. 

Oliver Harris being away the store was forcibly entered and drums and 

fifes were secured and while martial music was being played they picked 

up Mr. Lincoln and carried him about the front yard of Mrs. Moore's 


When dinner was served, two girls waited on the table, Miss 

Dovie Purcell, afterwards Mrs. John Magner and Miss Lib Miner, 

afterwards Mrs. Ralph Osborne. Mrs. Newman recalls that: 

I was in the room when Mr. Lincoln was getting ready to take his 
farewell of his stepmother, about three o'clock in the afternoon. On 
the bed was the fur cape which he had brought her as a present. Sarah 
Bush Lincoln was seated in a rocking chair near him and while he 
was talking to those who were in the room one of his hands clasped 
the rocking chair in which she was seated and the elbow of the other 
arm rested on the mantle piece. When in repose his face presented a 
very sad appearance, but when he smiled a radiance passed over his 
countenance. When the time came for him to bid his stepmother 
goodbye, he put him arm gently about her and it was at this time she 
uttered those prophetic words: "Abe, I'll never see you alive again. 
They will kill you." 45 
In an interview with William H. Herndon on September 8, 
1865, Mrs. Lincoln referred to her stepson's last visit to see her. 
She told Herndon: 

I did not want to see Abe run for President, did not want him elected, 

was afraid, somehow or other, felt it in my heart that something would 

happen to him, and when he came down to see me after he was elected 

President, I still felt that something told me that something would 

befall Abe and that I should see him no more. Abe and his father are 

in Heaven, I have no doubt, and I want to go to them, go where they 

are. God bless Abraham. 40 

According to Chapman, Mrs. Lincoln accompanied her stepson 

when he returned to Charleston with Chapman following the 

Farmington visit. 47 The Illinois State Journal's report of the visit 

states that Lincoln "rode back to town in company with his aged 

relative." 48 The local tradition among the Farmington residents, 

44 Clipping of December 12, 1933, St. Louis Globe-Democrat. As will be 
noted below, the writer does not believe that Lincoln said farewell to his 
stepmother at the Moore home. 

45 Lema Weekly Eagle, August 2, 1929. It will be recalled that Mrs. Newman 
was only eight years old at this time. 

40 Herndon-Weik Collection, Group IV, No. 2315. Mrs. Lincoln was living 
with the Halls at Goosenest Prairie at the time. Note that in her statement 
Mrs. Lincoln does not mention the place where she last saw her stepson. 

47 Chapman to Herndon, October 8, 1865. Herndon-Weik photostats, No. 

48 Issue of February 2, 1861. Where did the Journal get this information? 
Either from Lincoln himself, or, more likely, from Senator Marshall who re- 
turned to Springfield with Lincoln. 

The President-Elect Visits Coles County 207 

as well as the recollection of Mrs. Moore's daughter, Mrs. Fox, is 
that Lincoln said goodbye to his stepmother at the Moore home. 
It is more probable that Mrs. Lincoln returned to Chapman's 
Charleston home with her stepson, as stated by Chapman. Per- 
haps she had accepted an invitation to visit the Chapmans. In 
any event, the trip to Charleston enabled her to be with her step- 
son until the departure of his train the next morning. 49 

Upon returning to Charleston, Lincoln, Mrs. Lincoln and 
Chapman went to Chapman's home, according to Chapman. 
A large crowd soon gathered to see Lincoln, who asked Chap- 
man to announce that he would hold a reception at the Town 
Hall that evening at seven. Until then he wished to be left with 
his relations and friends. After supper Lincoln went to the Hall 
for the reception, where he greeted the large crowd that, regard- 
less of party, had called to see him. 50 

Herndon relates that at the meeting at the Hall Lincoln spoke 
briefly, recalling boyhood experiences. Herndon continued: 

In the audience were many persons who had known him first as the 
stalwart young ox-driver when his fathers family drove into Illinois 
from southern Indiana. One man had brought with him a horse which 
the President-elect, in the earlier days of his law practice, had recovered 
for him in a replevin suit; another one was able to recite from personal 
recollection the thrilling details of the famous wrestling match between 
Lincoln the fiatboatman in 1830 and Daniel Needham; and all had 
some reminiscence of his early manhood to relate."' 1 

Weik states that at this meeting, "although called upon, Lincoln 
declined making any remarks shadowing forth his views of the 
present state of the country or the policy of the coming ad- 
ministration." 52 

Eli Wiley of Charleston was one of those present at the recep- 
tion held in the Town Hall. Twenty-seven years later he wrote 
the following account of the event as he remembered it: 

The hall was densely packed with our citizens without regard to 

political preferences, for Mr. Lincoln was popular with the people. Mr. 

Lincoln entered the overflowing hall about 8 o'clock with Col. A. H. 

Chapman and wife, whose guest he then was. He was soon "surrounded 

49 Speed's report that in 1865 Lincoln told him that when he visited his 
stepmother in 1861 that he remained overnight and said goodbye to her in 
the morning, gives added support to Chapman's statement. Speed, pp. 36-37. 

56 Chapman's October 8, 1865, letter to Herndon. The reception was held 
at the Mount and Hill Hall, second floor, corner of Fifth and Monroe streets 
(as they are known today) . The Charleston Daily News now occupies the 
first floor of a building on this site. The Hall was destroyed by fire on Feb- 
ruary 4, 1923. 

51 Herndon, p. 388. The wrestling match occurred during the summer of 
1831. The owner of the horse may have been Isaac W. Rodgers of Pleasant 
Grove Township. 

52 Weik, p. 293. This is an almost verbatim quotation from the Illinois State 
Journal for February 2, 1861. 


by a surging and admiring crowd. He was comparatively cheerful, and 
still carried the grave face for which he was noted (except when lighted 
up temporarily by the recital of some of his inimitable stories) . The 
crowd in some way, expected to hear him speak. Perceiving the spirit 
and expectation, he took a position on the stand and gravely said, 
"You, my friends, are anxious to hear from me, what I think of the 
outlook for the future, but I am equally anxious with you, to see what 
lies before us and you will therefore have to excuse me from saying 
more, but if it will be any gratification to you, I shall be glad to take 
each one of you by the hand." The great crowd then moved past him, 
and he gave to each a cordial warm-hearted grasp of the hand — but 
many of the ladies present not contented with this manifestation, 
insisted on a warmer salute; and so, the president carried from the hall, 
that night, the aroma of many a pouting lip. 5 * 

Following the meeting at the Mount and Hill Hall, Lincoln 
returned to the Chapman home for the night. He left Charleston 
the next morning at four o'clock, accompanied by Senator Mar- 
shall. According to Chapman, Mrs. Lincoln got up to say good- 
bye to her stepson before he left for the train. The parting 
between them "was very affectionate. She embraced him when 
they parted and said she would never be permitted to see him 
again that she felt his enemies would assassinate him. He replied 
no no Mama (he always called her Mama) they will not do that. 
Trust in the Lord and all will be well. We will see each other 
again/' 54 

Added credence is given to this description of Lincoln's part- 
ing from his stepmother by its similarity to the account given by 
Lincoln to Joshua F. Speed in 1865, as recalled by Speed. In both 
descriptions Mrs. Lincoln is quoted as expressing the fear that 
she would never see him again, that he would never come back 
alive. 55 

If Chapman is approximately correct in stating that Lincoln 
left at four A.M., Lincoln got up early to catch the west-bound 
express which probably left Charleston shortly before five A.M. 
We know that it was scheduled to leave Mattoon at 5:30 A.M. 56 
The next west-bound passenger train left Mattoon at 5:30 P.M. 
At 9:30 A.M., however, a freight train left Mattoon for the west. 
It probably left Charleston not earlier than 8:45 A.M. It is pos- 
sible that Lincoln and Marshall took the freight. This would 

5:5 Article by Eli Wiley dated February 8, 1888, in scrapbook belonging to 
Mr. and Mrs. I. H. Johnston, Charleston, Illinois. A brief account of the 
meeting appeared in the New York Herald for February 4, 1861. In Collected 
Works, vol. IV, p. 182. 

51 Chapman's letter to Herndon, October 8, 1865. 

55 Speed, pp. 36-37. Note also Herndon's interview with Mrs. Lincoln on 
September 8, 1865, previously quoted. 

30 The scheduled Charleston departure time has not been seen by the writer. 
The Mattoon Gazette, February 1, 1861, gives the departure times from that 

The President-Elect Visits Coles County 209 

have made it unnecessary for Chapman, Mrs. Lincoln, and Sen- 
ator Marshall, as well as Lincoln himself, to get up before dawn 
to catch a five o'clock train. 

If Lincoln went north from Mattoon on the Illinois Central 
there was no reason to reach Mattoon early in the morning, for 
the next scheduled train north left Mattoon at 12:55 P.M. It 
would reach Tolono at about 2:50 P.M. However, there is good 
reason to believe that Lincoln did not return to Springfield by 
way of Tolono, for the two scheduled west-bound Great Western 
trains left Tolono, one before one P.M. and the other at mid- 
night. 57 If Lincoln did not go by way of Tolono, then he re- 
mained on the train he boarded at Charleston until it reached 
Pana. Departing from Mattoon at 5:30 A.M., Pana, forty miles 
to the west, would have been reached at about seven o'clock or 
a little after, depending upon whether or not a stop of any length 
was made at Shelbyville. 

An Illinois Central train from the south, coming by way of 
Pana and Decatur, left Bloomington at 10:47 A.M. 58 Pana is 
about eighty miles south of Bloomington. If we allow ten min- 
utes for a stop at Decatur, and assume 10:35 A.M. for the arrival 
time at Bloomington, we estimate that the train for Decatur and 
Bloomington left Pana about 7:15 A.M., or shortly after Lincoln 
reached Pana from Charleston. Decatur, thirty-five miles to the 
north, would have been reached at about 8:30 A.M. If Lincoln 
was on the train, he left it at Decatur. He would have been 
obliged to wait for the next west-bound Great Western train, 
which left Tolono before one o'clock that afternoon, and prob- 
ably reached Decatur, thirty miles to the west, about two o'clock 
or a little later. 59 If we assume that Lincoln left Decatur by 
two-thirty that afternoon, he probably reached Springfield be- 
tween four and five o'clock. Thus it is likely that Lincoln spent 
from 8:30 A.M. to 2:30 P.M., more or less, in Decatur on Feb- 
ruary 1, 1861. How did he and Senator Marshall, his companion, 
spend those hours in Decatur? The writer does not know. If 

57 Letter, C. C. Burford to the writer, May 15, 1951, for the Tolono schedules. 

" 8 Letter from Mr. Burford, May 23, 1951, giving Bloomington train sched- 
ules from the Bloomington Pantagrapli. Mr. Burford suggested to the writer 
that Lincoln may have returned by way of Pana rather than by way of Tolono. 

58 There are no surviving files in Decatur of the Decatur Illinois State 
Chronicle between October 27, 1859, and August 22, 1861. In October 1859 
north-bound Illinois Central trains left Decatur at 4:50 a.m., 3:20 p.m. 
(freight) , and 4:06 p.m. In August 1861 the north-bound trains left Decatur 

at 5:35 a.m. and 5:35 p.m. Memorandum from Mr. Otto R. Kyle, Decatur 
Herald and Review, May 24, 1951. None of these trains could have been the 
one used by Lincoln in February 1861. 


John Hanks was with Lincoln on the return trip, which may be 
inferred from Hanks' statement to Herndon, he left Lincoln 
and Marshall at Decatur. 

The Illinois State Journal of Springfield for February 2, 1861, 
reported that "Mr. Lincoln returned from Coles County yester- 
day morning." Actually, Lincoln probably reached Springfield 
in the late afternoon. If there was a west-bound train which left 
Decatur that morning by ten or even ten-thirty, Lincoln could 
have reached Springfield by noon. The writer has seen no evi- 
dence of such a train. 

The Coles County visit was a pleasant interlude for Lincoln. 
Chapman recalled that "Mr. Lincoln appeared to enjoy his visit 
here remarkable well. His reception by his old acquaintances 
appeared to be very gratifying to him. They all appeared glad 
to see him, irrespective of party, and all appeared so anxious that 
his administration might be a success, and that he might have a 
pleasant and honorable career as President/' 60 

This visit, particularly the time spent at Farmington, probably 
was the most pleasant and satisfying incident in Lincoln's life 
from the time of his election to his death in April 1865. It is 
significant that none of the accounts or traditions of the visit 
make any mention of requests for political appointments by his 
local friends or relatives. The visit revived and refreshed the 
tired and worried Lincoln, exhausted by the importunities of 
office-seekers and deeply troubled by the grave responsibilities 
he was about to assume. 

'Chapman's October 8, 1865, letter to Herndon. 

President Lincoln and His Coles County 
Relatives and Friends 

THE JANUARY 1861 visit was Lincoln's last to Coles County. 
His relatives and friends in the county did not profit greatly 
by his political elevation. Few of them received presidential 
favors. As we have noted, Augustus H. Chapman, son-in-law of 
Dennis Hanks, became an officer in the 54th Illinois Infantry, 
and some months after his discharge in 1865 received an ap- 
pointment from President Johnson as an Indian agent. Four 
years before, at the beginning of the Lincoln administration, an 
unsuccessful effort was made to secure the Charleston postmaster- 
ship for him. It appears that Lincoln originally intended to 
make this appointment. It is not clear why he did not do so. The 
appointment of Chapman was endorsed by Thomas A. Marshall 
in a letter to Lincoln written from Charleston on April 14, 1861, 
as follows: 

My brother-in-law, John A. Miles was an applicant for the office of 
Postmaster at this place & being an excellent man, had a large number 
of respectable signatures to his petition, but as you expressed yourself 
very decidedly desirous of conferring the place on A. H. Chapman I 
never pressed the name of my brother in law, nor even encouraged 
him to do so. 

Yesterday I learned that another person David C. Ambler was 
appointed to this office — thus cutting off both Gus Chapman & Mr. 
Miles. I suppose this appointment was made without your knowledge. 
It is however a very good one, suitable in every way to be made, but it 
leaves Gus Chapman without anything. He would like something 
better than the Post Office but would be glad to get that. Ambler the 
appointee is a very good man, & was strongly recommended for the 
Post Office, but on learning that you desired "Gus" to have it, changed 
his application to one for a route agency on one of the Rail Roads. 
I wish to suggest that if there is any Route agency vacant Ambler might 
still have it, and "Gus" have the Post Office. I write this without con- 
sulting "Gus," and because he has talked to me a great deal about his 
hopes & wishes. I shall show it to him, however before mailing it. 1 

1 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 9067. Lincoln may have mentioned 
to Marshall his intention to appoint Chapman as postmaster when he was 
Marshall's guest on the night of January 30. 



Chapman did not get the postmastership, and six months later 
he was a major in the army. Over thirty years later his son, 
Robert N. Chapman, was the Charleston postmaster. 

According to Dennis Hanks, his wife Elizabeth (Mrs. Lincoln's 
daughter) asked Lincoln to appoint him postmaster at Charleston. 
Hanks wrote to Herndon on January 26, 1866, that "as for my- 
self I did not ask Abe rite out for an office only this I would like 
to have the post office in Charleston. This was my w T ife that asked 
him. He told hir that much was understood as much as to say 
I would get it. I did not care much about it." As for the sons of 
John D. Johnston, Hanks told Herndon that "Thomas Johnston 
went to Abe he got this permit to take degarytipes in the 
Army. This is all for they are all ded except John's boys. They 
did not ask for any [public office]." 2 Referring to the failure of 
Dennis Hanks to receive the postmastership, Henry C. Whitney 
gave it as his opinion that "Lincoln regarded his obligation to 
duty as a stronger obligation than that to friendship. . . ." 3 In a 
letter to the President in 1864, Dennis Hanks asked Lincoln to 
"Remember My Boys if you can." For himself, Dennis wrote. "I 
don't ask anything." 4 

When Dennis Hanks visited Lincoln in Washington in the 
spring of 1864, he brought with him letters to the President from 
two of his sons-in-law, Allison C. Poorman and William F. Shriver. 
Both were asking for permits to trade within the Union lines in 
the South. Poorman, writing from Charleston on May 9, told 
Lincoln that as he was "now out of business," he was applying 
"for a permit to trade within the lines of the Western Army in 

2 Herndon-Weik photostats, Nos. 522-523. Thomas L. D. Johnston operated 
a photographic studio in Charleston in the Mount and Hill hall in 1864. 
Lerna Weekly Eagle, n.d. Article dated Charleston, July 12, 1929. In files of 
Lincoln National Life Foundation, Fort Wayne, Indiana. John J. Hall, uncle 
of Thomas Johnston, told Mrs. Gridlcy in 1891 that "Uncle Abe gave him a 
pass to go all over the army takin' pictures. . . ." Gridley, pp. 22-23. Thomas 
Johnston was behind the lines in January 1864, at Vicksburg, Mississippi. 
John Berry, husband of Elizabeth Jane Hall, John's younger sister, wrote from 
"Camp Clear Creek, Miss." on January 21, 1864, to Amanda Hall (also a 
sister of John J. Hall) , "I was at town the other day and I seen Thomas 
Johnston and he gave me his likeness and told me to send it to Jane. . . . 
Tom has a good tjme in vicksburge and he makes Plenty of money." Letter in 
Illinois State Histdrical Library. From Barrett Collection. 

"Whitney, p. 419. 

4 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 32134. April 5, 1864. Hanks referred 
in his letter to his sons Charles and Theophilus. The first had reenlisted in 
the army, and Dennis feared that Theophilus ("15 years old a very Stout Boy 
he can shoot as well as I can") would go into the army with Charles. Dennis' 
oldest son, John Talbot (born 1823) , had gone to Oregon some years before 
the war. Charles was 23 years old in 1864. He died October 20, 1870. Head- 
stone in "Old Cemetery," Charleston. 

Lincoln and His Relatives and Friends 213 

all kinds of Merchandize, Liquors excepted." If Lincoln would 
grant this favor, it "will not soon be forgotten." Lincoln's endorse- 
ment on this letter, dated May 15, read "The writer of the within 
is a family connection of mine, 8c a worthy man; and I shall be 
obliged if he be allowed what he requests, so far as the rules and 
exigencies of the public service will permit." 5 

Shriver's request also was written from Charleston on May 9. 
He explained that "Father Hanks" would present the letter and 
would "more fully lay before you my wants than I can here 
explain." He requested a permit to trade "in Cotton and Hides 
for shipment North," within the lines of the armies of the Cum- 
berland, Mississippi and Arkansas. Shriver offered "Father 
Hanks" as his only reference. Lincoln's endorsement, dated May 
15, read: "The writer of this is personally unknown to me, al- 
though married to a young relative of mine. I shall be obliged 
if he be allowed what he requests so far as the rules and exigencies 
of the public service will permit." 

A Macon County relative and old friend of Lincoln, John 
Hanks, was considered for appointment as an Indian agent, but 
was not appointed because of his inability to write and his lack 
of business experience. 7 A letter in support of Hanks' application 
was written to Lincoln by Richard J. Oglesby, in later years to 
be thrice elected Covernor of Illinois. Oglesby wrote from Spring- 
field on September 17, 1861, as follows: 

It will not be necessary for me in speaking of John Hanks to recount 
his virtues to you. You know his worth his capacity and his defects if 
he has any. I only wish to say this to you that if you can find it within 
your reach to confer some mark of respect upon him during your ad- 

5 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 32944. This is a copy of the original 
letter. Both the copy of the letter from Poorman and the endorsement are in 
Lincoln's hand, on one sheet of paper headed "Copy." Collected Works, vol. 
VII, p. 342. 

6 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 32945. The document is marked 
"copy" and both letter and endorsement are in the same handwriting, not 
that of Lincoln. Collected Works, vol. VII, p. 342. The Coles County Marriage 
Register, 1861-1865, p. 41, shows that William F. Shriver was married to Mary 
L. Hanks on June 10, 1862. The name is spelled "Schriver" in the copy of the 
letter in the Lincoln Papers. The daughers of Dennis Hanks were: 

Sarah Jane, born June 14, 1822, married Thomas S. Dowling of Charles- 
ton, died March 20, 1907. 
Nancy, born 1824, married James Shoaff of Edgar County, 1843. 
Harriet A., born 1826, married Augustus H. Chapman of Charleston, 

September 9, 1847. 
Amanda, born 1833, married Allison C. Poorman of Charleston. 
Mary, born after 1833, married William F. Shriver, June 10, 1862. 
The names of the children of Dennis Hanks are given in a letter from Mrs. 
Harriet A. Dice to Alden H. Wyatt, March 23, 1928. Photostat in files of 
Lincoln National Life Foundation, Fort Wayne, Indiana. 

7 Whitney, Circuit, p. 419. 


ministration — I know of no man who will feel it more keenly than 
John Hanks himself. Besides it will be felt and appreciated all over 
the country in which he lives as a just recognition of old personal ties. 
No attribute of nature is more beautiful when fitly illustrated than the 
acknowledgment of former relations in life when one may be supposed 
to have forgotten them by reason of advancement to distinction and 
power in earthly honors. The difficulty I plainly see will be to over- 
come the misfortune Mr. Hanks labors under of not knowing how to 
write. Should you be able to confer upon him some position where 
this requirement may be dispensed with — you will have favored an 
old friend and pleased everybody else. Further than this as the per- 
sonal friend of Mr. Hanks I do not ask or desire you to go. 8 

Dennis Hanks told Herndon that "John Hanks of Decatur 
did solisit him for an Indian agency and John told me that Abe 
as good as told him he should have one. But John could not 
read or write. I think this was the reason that Abe did not 
give John the place/' 9 Henry C. Whitney states that Lincoln 
asked him about the suitability of appointing John Hanks. 
Whitney suggested that Lincoln pass over Hanks' ignorance, for 
"his honesty is better than knowledge." 10 

It is very much to Lincoln's credit that he did not distribute 
political jobs among his eastern Illinois relatives. 

A number of Coles County friends of Lincoln were Civil 
War colonels. Augustus H. Chapman entered military service as 
a major in the 54th Illinois Infantry on October 10, 1861. He 
was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel on January 9, 1863. Colonel 
Greenville M. Mitchell of Charleston was regimental commander 
at that time. Colonel Chapman was mustered out on April 13, 
1865. 11 Lincoln's friend Thomas A. Marshall of Charleston was 
in command of the 1st Illinois Cavalry from July 1861 until it was 
mustered out at Benton Barracks, Missouri, on June 14, 1862. 12 

Lincoln was well acquainted with the True family of Mattoon. 
Two of its members commanded, in turn, the 62nd Illinois In- 
fantry. Colonel James M. True organized the regiment and 
served with it throughout the period of hostilities. When the 
regiment was reorganized in April 1865, Lieutenant Colonel 
Lewis C. True of the regiment became its commander. John 
W. True served with the 54th Infantry as Adjutant and as major. 

8 Copied by Paul M. Angle from the Oglesby Papers. Angle's copy in the 
office of the Abraham Lincoln Association, Springfield. Oglesby was a Decatur 
resident. His letter would appear to have been written to assure Lincoln that 
if he did appoint his illiterate second cousin to some sort of federal job, that 
the appointment would be generally approved in Macon County. 

"Hanks to Herndon, January 26, 1866. Herndon-Weik photostats, No. 522. 

10 Whitney, Life, vol. I, pp. 63-64. 

11 A. G. R., vol. Ill, p. 656. 

12 A. G. R., vol. VII, p. 461. 

Lincoln and His Relatives and Friends 215 

He resigned on July 17, 1863, probably to become a paymaster. 13 
F. G. True of Mattoon on February 1, 1863, had written to 
Senator Lyman Trumbull, asking Trumbull to use his influence 
to secure such a position for Major True. Trumbull referred 
the letter to Lincoln, who on February 9 passed the letter on to 
Secretary of War Stanton with the endorsement: "I personally 
know John W. True and think him both competent and worthy 
to be an Additional Paymaster. A. Lincoln." 14 

Colonel James Monroe of Mattoon, son of Byrd Monroe, Sr., 
of Charleston, according to a tradition in the Cunningham family 
of Mattoon, owed his advancement in rank to President Lin- 
coln. Monroe married Mary Jane, daughter of James Taylor 
Cunningham (1801-1863), one of the founders of the city of 
Mattoon, a large-scale landowner, farmer and cattle dealer, and 
an acquaintance of President Lincoln. According to the tradition 
Monroe had been elected captain of his company and also had 
been appointed colonel of another regiment. The War Depart- 
ment objected to the transfer, and it began to look as though 
Captain Monroe would not be able to accept the higher rank. 
So Cunningham went to Washington to see the President in 
his son-in-law's behalf. Lincoln brought him into his office, past 
a crowd of waiting office-seekers, and after a long conversation 
about Lincoln's Coles County relatives and friends, the Presi- 
dent gave Cunningham a note to the Secretary of War, which 
read: "Admit the bearer, Mr. Cunningham, at once. He is an old 
and tried friend of mine. He will not deviate one hair's breath 
from the truth. Do what he wants done, if possible. A. Lin- 
coln." 15 This note, on a small card, remained in the possession 
of the Cunningham family for years. Its present location is un- 
known. According to the family tradition, Secretary Stanton 
issued the necessary order, and Monroe received his colonelcy. 
He was later killed in action in Tennessee. 16 

13 A. G. R., vol. Ill, p. 656; vol. IV, pp. 244, 276. In November 1862, True 
had expressed a desire to become a paymaster. Collected Works, vol. V, p. 540 

14 Collected Works, vol. VI, p. 98. Also see vol. V, p. 540, Lincoln to Stanton, 
December 4, 1862. 

15 Text of note from Portrait and Biographical Album of Coles County, III. 
Chicago, Chapman Bros., 1887, p. 441. Courtesy of Dr. Harry E. Pratt. Mr. 
James T. Cunningham, II, in describing the family tradition to the writer on 
January 7, 1950, quoted the note, from memory, as follows: "This will intro- 
duce to you James T. Cunningham, a friend of mine. If there is anything 
you can do for him, I will appreciate it. A. Lincoln." 

16 As told to the writer by Mr. James T. Cunningham, II, of Mattoon, grand- 
son of James T. Cunningham, January 7, 1950. 


One detail of this traditional account appears to be erroneous, 
but the main point may be accepted as probably true: that James 
T. Cunningham did go to Washington to see his friend the Presi- 
dent in behalf of his son-in-law James Monroe, Colonel Monroe 
entered the service on April 19, 1861, as captain of Company B, 
7th Illinois Infantry. On March 21, 1862, he was promoted to 
major in that regiment, and on September 6, 1862, he became 
colonel of the 123rd Illinois Infantry. It was this promotion, 
presumably (from major to colonel rather than from captain to 
colonel), which was the occasion of Mr. Cunningham's visit to 
the President. Colonel Monroe was killed in action at the battle 
of Farming ton, Tennessee, on October 7, 1863. 17 

James Monroe's brother George of the 54th Illinois Infantry, 
also was the recipient of President Lincoln's favorable attention. 
Brigadier General Nathan Kimball of Kimball's Provisional Divi- 
sion, writing from Little Rock, Arkansas, on November 29, 1863, 
to the Adjutant General, recommended First Lieutenant George 
Monroe for promotion. Monroe had been regimental quarter- 
master. General Kimball reported that "implicit confidence is 
placed in him by the officers of his Regiment and all who know 
him. He is competent, active, and trustworthy. . . ." On the re- 
verse of General Kimball's letter the President added an en- 
dorsement: "Lieut. Monroe is a son of an old friend of mine, and 
I desire him to have the promotion sought, if the service admits 
of it. A. Lincoln. Feb. 8, 1864." 18 The desired promotion was de- 
layed, for the Illinois Adjutant General's Report has the notation 
opposite the name of George Monroe, Charleston, regimental 
quartermaster, "Prom, by President, Oct. 17, 1864." 19 

Dr. William M. Chambers of Charleston, friend and political 
supporter of Lincoln, received permission from the President 
and the War Department in October 1861, to raise a regiment 
of Kentucky-born Illinois troops for service in Kentucky. On 
October 3, 1861, Secretary of War Simon Cameron wrote to Gov- 
ernor Richard Yates of Illinois, bespeaking his cooperation in 
the organization of this brigade. Cameron wrote: 

After consultation with the President, we have concluded to authorize 
Dr. William M. Chambers of Illinois, to organize a brigade of four 
regiments of infantry, native-born Kentuckians, now residents of Illi- 
nois, to serve for three years, or during the war. As the several regi- 

17 A. G. R., vol. I, pp. 259, 353, 357; vol. VI, pp. 395, 418. 

18 Collected Works, vol. VII, p. 174. 

19 A. G. R., vol. Ill, p. 656. The record shows that George Monroe enlisted 
on October 10, 1861, and was mustered into service on February 18, 1862. His 
brother Byrd Monroe, Jr., was captain of Co. C, 54th Illinois Infantry, until 
his resignation on November 27, 1862. P. 662. 

Lincoln and His Relatives and Friends 217 

mental organizations are filled they will be sent to Kentucky for service. 

Please furnish such aid and facilities as may be necessary to organize 

promptly. 20 
Dr. Chambers meanwhile on October 4, 1861, had entered the 
service as a brigade surgeon and had been assigned to another 
brigade. On December 17, 1861, Major Chapman of the 54th, 
writing from Charleston before going on active duty on February 
18, 1862, requested President Lincoln to have Dr. Chambers 
transferred to the "Kentucky Brigade" which he had been in- 
strumental in forming, and which was then being organized. 
Chapman wrote that "there is no one who could render us more 
essential service in the formation of our Brigade than he." 
Lincoln noted on the reverse of this letter: "This inchoate Brigade 
was set on foot by particular friends of mine some time ago. I 
expect they will have to be completed by consolidation. I wish 
the very best done for them that can be consistently with the 
public service. A. Lincoln, Dec. 27, 1861. " 21 

James T. Cunningham, the Mattoon friend of Lincoln who 
had aided Colonel Monroe, was sent by the President on confi- 
dential assignments on two or three occasions, according to 
family tradition. The last of these missions was made in 1863 
and cost Cunningham his life. The President had requested 
him to visit the military post at Cairo, Illinois, where illness 
among the troops was rife, and give him a report on conditions. 
Cunningham was about sixty-two years old, and requested a 
Mattoon friend, Myron Jedediah Ferguson, about thirty-six 
years old, to accompany him. Both contracted camp dysentery at 
Cairo. Ferguson recovered, but Cunningham died. 22 

President Lincoln's correspondence with his Coles County 
friends included a number of requests for appointment to public 
office. His friend Thomas A. Marshall had been hard hit by 
the decline in the value of Southern state and railroad bonds 
following secession. Writing to Lincoln from Springfield on 
February 10, 1861, Marshall expressed his determination to meet 
all of his obligations in full, but to do so "will probably swallow 
up everything I have," he added. He asked Lincoln, therefore, 

20 Official Records, Union and Confederate Armies, series III, vol. i, p. 557. 
Cited hereafter as Official Records. The 54th Illinois Volunteer Infantry was 
a regiment in this brigade, which also included the 60th, 62nd and 63rd in- 
fantry regiments. Its service was not confined to Kentucky. 

21 Photostat of letter in files of Illinois State Historical Library. Collected 
Works, vol. V, p. 80. Dr. Chambers held the rank of major. He remained in 
the service until May 12, 1865. A. G. R., vol. I, p. 180. 

22 Interview by the writer with Mr. James T. Cunningham, II, and Dr. Oscar 
W. Ferguson, son of M. J. Ferguson, Mattoon, Illinois, January 7, 1950. The 
writer has been unable to find any other reference to this incident. 


for an appointment to public office, "as good an office as your 
sense of what is right authorizes/' If, however, Lincoln did not 
think it right to appoint him to an office, Marshall wrote that: 
I will suppose it is because the number of desirable places you can 
bestow upon the Republicans of this state is limited, 8c there are others 
who have greater claims, in sufficient numbers to fill them. In that case, 
I shall go to work with a stout heart to support my family, & if possible 
to retrieve my fortunes, not one whit abating my zeal for the Republi- 
can cause, or my devoted friendship for yourself. 23 
In the press of preparations to leave Springfield for Washing- 
ton, it is likely that Lincoln did not find the time to reply to 
this letter. Marshall again referred to his precarious financial 
condition in his letter to Lincoln of April 14, 1861, concerning 
the Chapman appointment, but he made no reference to any 
appointment for himself. He did, however, request a West Point 
cadetship for his son James. 24 

Seeking to recoup his fortunes, Marshall with A. W. Mack, 
a banker of Kankakee, Illinois, formed a company to furnish 
provisions to the army. Early in June Marshall and Mack went 
to Washington, where they saw Iincoln, who on June 10 gave 
them a letter to General George B. McClellan, then commanding 
the Union forces in northwestern Virginia (now West Virginia). 
Lincoln assured McClellan that "any contract made with them 
would be faithfully complied with on their part. . . ." The Presi- 
dent hoped that they would obtain a contract "on fair and just 
terms to the government and themselves." Marshall and Mack, 
the President added, were friends whom he "would be pleased 
to see obliged. " 25 

While in Washington Marshall renewed his request for a West 
Point cadetship for his son, for on the same day as the letter to 
McClellan, Lincoln wrote to Secretary of War Simon Cameron: 
"If there is any vacancy of a cadetship, for West-Point, which I 
have to fill, please give it to James M. Marshall, son of Hon. T. A. 
Marshall, of Illinois." The appointment was made, and James 
M. Marshall was in the fourth (first year) class at West Point 
as of September 30, 1861. 26 

Evidently nothing came of the army contract business for on 
June 16, after returning to Charleston, Marshall wrote to Lincoln 
that he feared that "We will fail in accomplishing anything in 

23 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 7275. This letter was written less 
than two weeks after Lincoln had visited in the Marshall home at Charleston. 
Marshall obviously had not embarrassed his guest by discussing his own desire 
for an appointment with him at that time. 

24 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 9067. 

25 Collected Works, vol. IV, p. 400. 

20 Collected Works, vol. IV, p. 398 and note. 

Lincoln and His Relatives and Friends 219 

the way of a contract." Marshall also asked Lincoln to expedite 
his son's West Point appointment, in order that James could 
enter the Academy at the time required by Academy regulations. 27 

With the army contract venture unsuccessful, in this same let- 
ter Marshall suggested a military appointment for himself. He 
proposed that a brigade of troops be raised in Coles County, with 
himself in command with a commission as a brigadier general. 
Marshall pointed out that he had "borne nearly the whole burden 
& expense of the [Republican] party in this and some of the 
neighboring counties for five years," and that his standing in 
the party was such that his appointment as a brigadier general, 
he had been advised, would be well received in Illinois. 

A Coles County brigade was not raised, but within two weeks 
after writing this letter, or on July 1, 1861, Marshall w r as com- 
missioned Colonel and given command of the First Illinois Cav- 
alry, which w r as mustered into service on July 19. 28 On September 
20, 1861, six companies of the regiment, together with Colonel 
James Mulligan's "Irish Brigade," were captured by a Confederate 
force of ten thousand men under General Sterling Price at the 
battle of Lexington, Missouri, after fifty-two hours of heavy fight- 
ing against great odds. 29 The officers were placed on parole, and 
were exchanged in December 1861. 

On December 8, 1861, Colonel Marshall, not yet having been 
exchanged, and having been informed that he was no longer 
considered to be on active duty, wrote again to the President from 
Charleston requesting an appointment. 30 As it turned out, he 
was not in a position to accept an appointment, for following 
the exchange of the officers of the regiment that month, they were 
ordered to reorganize the regiment, with Colonel Marshall re- 
taining command. This was partially accomplished by June 1862, 
and the partly organized regiment resumed service in the field. 
Difficulties arising out of the filling of vacancies in the regiment 
prevented the completion of the reorganization, and on July 

27 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 10315. 

28 A. G. R., vol. VII, pp. 461, 467-469. Company C of this regiment was 
recruited in Coles County. Most of the men came from Mattoon. 

29 Official Records, series I, vol. iii, pp. 187-188. Price reported the capture 
of 3,500 men (probably an exaggeration) , including Colonel Mulligan (in 
command of the Federal troops) , Colonel Marshall, and 122 other officers. 
For military operations leading up to the surrender, see pp. 417-421, 423, 426, 
428, 452. T. M. Eddy: The Patriotism of Illinois (1865), pp. 165-166, states 
that the Confederates cut the Federal troops off from their water supply, and 
that both Mulligan and Marshall were wounded. 

30 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 13303. 


14, 1862, the regiment was mustered out of the service at Benton 
Barracks, near St. Louis. 31 

The day following the disbanding of his regiment, Colonel 
Marshall wrote to the President from Benton Barracks. As he 
told Mr. Lincoln, the disbanding of the regiment was "because 
the authorities could not or would not exchange the [enlisted] 
men who had been taken prisoner and paroled.'' Marshall made 
no reference to any political appointment for himself in this 
letter. 32 

Before coming to Charleston Marshall had resided for several 

years at Vicksburg, Mississippi, where he retained some property 

interests after his removal to Illinois. 33 It seems that after leaving 

military service, Marshall had occasion to return to Mississippi to 

look after his interests, for on June 6, 1864, President Lincoln 

wrote to General Henry W. Slocum in Marshall's behalf. In 

April 1864 Slocum had been placed in command of that portion 

of Mississippi then under Union control, which included the 

Vicksburg district. Lincoln's letter to Slocum was: 

My friend Thomas A. Marshall, who will hand you this, informs me 
that he has some difficulty in managing a plantation in your Depart- 
ment. It may be that you withhold nothing from him which can safely 
be granted; and I do not make any order in the case; but simply wish 
to say I personally know, so far as such things can be known, that Mr. 
Marshall is loyal, truthful, and honorable; and that I shall be glad for 
him to be obliged in any not unreasonable way. 34 

Another Coles County friend who asked President Lincoln for 
an appointment was Henry P. H. Bromwell of Charleston. Brom- 
well had been active as a Republican since the party was first or- 
ganized in Illinois. He had been a Republican presidential elector 
in both 1856 and 1860, and he had been defeated for Congress 
in 1856. On April 11, 1863, Bromwell wrote to Lincoln from 
Charleston applying for appointment as Fifth Auditor of the 
Treasury "when such office shall become vacant by the resigna- 
tion of Judge Underwood/' which Bromwell had been informed 
would be "shortly/' 35 Two days later Bromwell wrote to Secretary 
of the Interior John P. Usher about the same job, saying that 
he had heard of the impending vacancy and that he wanted it — 
in fact, he would take any position available. 30 

31 A. G. R., vol. VII, pp. 461, 484-485; Official Records, series II, vol. iv, p. 192. 
82 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 17125. 

33 Letter, Thomas L. Marshall, grandson of Thomas A. Marshall, to the 
writer, September 23, 1949. 

34 Collected Works, vol. VII, p. 378. 

35 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 22921. 
30 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 22948. 

Lincoln and His Relatives and Friends 221 

Evidently Bromwell did not get the appointment, for on Feb- 
ruary 15, 1864, he wrote to the President, from Washington, fol- 
lowing a conference he had had with him. He applied again for 
an appointment, to "one of the contemplated bureaus of which 
we spoke, or such other appointment as you may deem me quali- 
fied for; and which would be proper for me to receive." 37 As far 
as the writer has been able to determine, Bromwell did not re- 
ceive an appointment. As it turned out, this was just as well, for 
he became the Republican candidate for Congress in 1864, was 
elected, and served for two terms. In the Bromwell Papers in the 
Library of Congress is a card in Lincoln's hand, dated March 19, 
1865, as follows: "Hon. Sec. of War, please see 8c hear Hon. 
H. P. H. Bromwell, one of our new Union M.Cs from Illinois. 
A. Lincoln." There is no indication in the Papers of the nature 
of Bromwell's business with Secretary Stanton. 38 

An early Indian agency appointment by President Lincoln 
went to a former Coles County resident then living in California. 
George M. Hanson, formerly of Paradise, Coles County, who 
established the first post office in the county in 1829, was appoint- 
ed Superintending Agent for the Indians of Northern California 
on April 9, 1861. Hanson had been prominent in Republican 
politics in California since 1856. He had been a delegate to the 
Republican national convention of that year, where he had ad- 
vocated the nomination of Lincoln as the vice-presidential candi- 
date. Hanson went to Washington in March 1861 for Lincoln's 
inauguration, and to press his candidacy for the agency appoint- 
ment. He was endorsed by Senator E. D. Baker of California and 
by W. P. Dole, who became Commissioner of Indian Affairs. Han- 
son sent all his testimonials to Secretary of the Interior Caleb B. 
Smith on March 29, 1861, with a letter in which he referred to 
his "personal acquaintance for over 30 years" with President Lin- 
coln. Hanson's name appears on an undated appointment mem- 
orandum, in Lincoln's handwriting, found in the Robert Todd 
Lincoln Collection. He is listed for the north California Indian 
Superintendency at a salary of $4,000. 39 

The appointment was made, and Hanson served as Superinten- 
ding Agent for the Indians of northern California until August 
1863, when he was replaced. While in office, Hanson had been 

37 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 305521. 

38 H. P. H. Bromwell Papers, Library of Congress, vol. XVII, No. 1627. Col- 
lected Works, vol. VIII, p. 366. 

39 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, Nos. 13639 13641. Printed in Collected 
Works, vol. IV, p. 306, with the date "c. April 1, 1861" assigned. 


accused of diverting Indian purchases to his own use, and other 
irregularities. A reference service report by the National Ar- 
chives, prepared for the writer, concludes that: 

While nothing has been found in the records of the Bureau of Indian 
Affairs to prove definite guilt on the part of Mr. Hanson, it would seem 
clear that he was under a heavy cloud of suspicion during most of his 
tenure of office and that he was replaced because of his administrative 
inability and this suspicion. 40 

Hanson was seen in California in 1864 by a Coles County ac- 
quaintance, George E. Mason, who later made his permanent resi- 
dence in San Diego. Writing to a Charleston paper from San 
Diego on June 4, 1906, Mr. Mason recalled: 

Hanson moved to California with his family and was made Indian 
Agent for the Digger Indians ... by President Lincoln. Notwithstand- 
ing his being a Methodist minister he skinned not only the cattle he 
purchased for the Indians, but he skinned the Indians as well, sold 
the beef and fed the Indians on the hoofs, horns and hides. I saw him 
in 1864, at Long Valley, in the Coast Range mountains, a poor old 
broken down man; the fire had faded from his eyes and his hands shook 
with the palsy of age. 41 

Another Indian agency appointment, to the Cherokees, went 
to Justin Harlan of Marshall, Illinois, who had served as judge 
of the Coles County Circuit Court during a number of years 
when Lincoln had cases in that court. Harlan was first appointed 
on September 11, 1862, on the recommendation of Secretary of 
the Interior Smith and that of John P. Usher, who became Sec- 
retary in 1863. On December 27, 1862, Harlan received a per- 
manent appointment, following Senate confirmation. He served 
until he resigned in September 1866. He was succeeded by a 
Tennessee friend of President Johnson. Harlan's services evi- 
dently were highly satisfactory, for in December 1863, he was con- 
sidered for promotion to "Superintendent of Indian Affairs of 
the Central Superintendency." For some reason his nomination 
to this higher office, after being made in the Secretary's office, was 
not forwarded to the President. 42 

In an earlier chapter we described Lincoln's relations with 
Usher F. Linder, and gave Linder's letter of March 26, when he 
was living in Chicago, asking the President for an appointment. 

40 Report dated February 20, 1950, prepared by Marshall D. Moody. An 
accompanying report by Miss Margareth Jorgensen gives details concerning 
Hanson's appointment. 

41 Undated clipping, the Charleston Daily Courier, in scrapbook belonging 
to Mrs. Walton Alexander of Charleston. Mr. Mason was 74 years old at the 
time he wrote. He had lived in Charleston at various times from 1838 to 
1895, when he moved to San Diego. 

42 Reference Service Report to the writer, February 6, 1952, by Miss 
Margareth Jorgensen, National Resources Record Branch, The National 

Lincoln and His Relatives and Friends 223 

Among the letters received by President Lincoln from Coles 
County was one concerning a quilt sent to him by a lady of 
Mattoon, Mrs. Fannie Haller. Not having received an acknowl- 
edgment after four months, she asked a friend, Lieutenant 
Colonel D. C. Smith of the 143rd Illinois Infantry, to write to Mr. 
Lincoln. Colonel Smith wrote from Mattoon on September 26, 

At the request of Mrs. Fannie Haller a resident of this place, seventy- 
six years of age, whose love for her country and appreciation of your 
services in behalf of that country prompted her in the month of May 
last to send you by express a beautiful quilt, the work of her own hands 
almost half a century ago. She has not yet been favored with an 
acknowledgment. . . A note from you stating whether or not you have 
received it would gratify her. 

On the reverse of this letter is the notation in Lincoln's hand, 
"Acknowledged, October 5, 1864." 43 

Illustrative of the petty annoyances which come to any Presi- 
dent is a letter to Lincoln from Richard E. Turley of Oakland, 
Coles County, dated August 20, 1864. Turley inquired of Lincoln 
regarding the estate of one Charles Turley of Rappahannock 
County, Virginia, who died in 1858, leaving land and negroes. 
Turley claimed that the federal government had some connection 
with the*settlement of the estate. 44 

John S. Sargent (1846-1932) of Hutton Township, Coles County, 
was recognized by President Lincoln when Sargent was a patient 
in a hospital visited by the President. Lincoln knew the Sargents, 
and had visited at their home in southeastern Coles County. In 
later years the teen-age soldier told his son of the incident. As 
given to the writer by Mr. Samuel S. Sargent: 

When Father was in the Union Army and stationed in Virginia, he was 
sick in the hospital. It was noised about that Lincoln was coming 
through the hospital. Father said he was beginning to feel pretty good, 
so when he saw him coming down the row of beds, he sat up in bed 
and decided to see if Lincoln would recognize him. He said that 
Lincoln came up to his bed and spoke to him calling him John and 
asked how the folks were back home and some other questions about 
his service. 45 
None of the beneficiaries of President Lincoln's use of the 

4:1 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 36703. 

44 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 35442. 

45 Letter, S. S. Sargent to the writer November 12, 1951. Private John S. 
Sargeant [Sargent] served in Co. C, 68th Illinois Volunteer Infantry. He 
enlisted on May 30, 1862, at age sixteen, and was mustered out at Camp 
Butler, near Springfield, on September 26, 1862. The regiment served in the 
vicinity of Washington, D. C. A.G.R., vol. IV, pp. 455, 469. His captain was 
John P. St. John of Charleston, who became Lieutenant Colonel of the 143rd 
Illinois Infantry in 1864. After the war Colonel St. John went to Kansas, 
where he was active as a Prohibitionist. He served as Governor from 1878 
to 1882 and in 1884 was the Prohibition Party's candidate for president. 


pardoning power came from Coles County, to the writer's knowl- 
edge. A Cumberland County soldier, Second Lieutenant Charles 
Conzet of Greenup, was released from confinement by the Presi- 
dent in 1864, following his conviction of desertion by a general 
court-martial. According to John J. Hall, as told to Mrs. Gridley, 
Conzet was captured by Captain Talbot (of the 123rd Illinois 
Infantry). Following the capture, Talbot and "Charley Conzert" 
stayed overnight at Hall's cabin at Goosenest Prairie. Hall drove 
them to Charleston the next morning. Hall claimed that the 
local Copperheads threatened to lynch him for his part in Conzet's 
apprehension. Hall added that: 

Charley was tried and sentenced to be shot, but Uncle Abe saved him 
fur he promised to go back into the war ag'in and be a good soldier, 
and Uncle Abe said to some of the big fellers down to Washington, 
"Charley used to be a neighbor of mine and I know what kind of stuff 
he's made of. He'll do as he says." So he let him go and Uncle Abe's 
words proved true. 46 

The facts in the case, as shown by official records, were as fol- 
lows: Charles Conzet was mustered into the service at Mattoon 
on September 6, 1862, as Second Lieutenant of Company B, 123rd 
Illinois Infantry. 47 He was tried by a general court martial at 
Headquarters, 75th Regiment, Indiana Volunteers, on February 
21 and March 13 and 14, 1863. He was found guilty of desertion 
in the face of the enemy at Nashville, Tennessee, on or about 
January 9, 1863, and was sentenced to be stripped of his insignia 
of rank and to be shot. The Judge Advocate General commuted 
the death sentence to imprisonment. On September 24, 1864, 
President Lincoln ordered: "Let the prisoner be released from 
confinement and dishonorably dismissed the service of the United 
States." Conzet's dishonorable dismissal and release from con- 
finement was the subject of Special Order No. 321, War Depart- 
ment, dated September 26, 1864. 48 Thus Conzet was saved from 
death by the Judge Advocate General, not by the President. The 
President did, however, release him from confinement with a dis- 

40 Gridley, pp. 133-134. 

47 A.G.R., vol. VI, p. 398; letter Major General William E. Bergin, Acting 
The Adjutant General, Washington, D. C., to the writer, July 24, 1951. 

48 Letter, Col. Robert E. Chandler, Acting Chief, Military Justice Division, 
Office of the Judge Advocate General, Washington, D. C. November 6, 1951 to 
the writer. Colonel Chandler writes that his office "is in possession of no 
information which would indicate that Conzet was pardoned by President 
Lincoln." A.G.R., vol. VI, p. 398, notes that Conzet was "Dismissed Sept. 26, 
1864." Two other members of the Conzet family of Greenup served honorably 
in Company B, 123rd Illinois Infantry. Musician John Conzet and Recruit 
Edward Conzet entered the service on August 10, 1862, and were mustered 
out on June 28, 1865. A.G.R., vol. VI, pp. 398, 400. 

Lincoln and His Relatives and Friends 225 

honorable discharge. This action by the President did not consti- 
tute a pardon. 49 

We will close this chapter with the following incident involv- 
ing President Lincoln which is supposed to have occurred in Coles 
County. We quote from Mr. William F. Cavins: 

James M. Bresee, a well known veteran of the Civil War states that 
when living near the Coles County village of Trilla with his parents 
before enlisting, a young woman named Ida Couch came with her 
children from Kentucky in an ox cart to live near them. Her husband 
was a soldier in the Union Army. He had sent her $5.00 which she 
never received and which she very much needed. Being unable to read 
or write she asked a neighbor to write a letter to the President explain- 
ing her plight, and called on Mr. Bresee's mother to read for her the 
President's reply. Mr. Lincoln stated that due to the confusion of the 
war the mail service was somewhat inefficient and that letters when lost 
were not easily traced. Fearing that she might not get the money and 
lest she might suffer for the need of it, he was therefore enclosing 
money to the amount that had miscarried/' 
The writer has not seen this story in any other Lincoln material. 
While of dubious authenticity, it is not out of character. It is 
just the sort of thoughtful kindness which we associate with 

49 Hall was wrong about Lincoln saving Conzet from execution. He was 
correct about there being a Captain Talbot. The A.G.R., vol. VI, p. 398, 
shows that the Commander of Company B, 123rd Illinois Infantry, was Cap- 
tain Edward Talbot of Greenup, who served from September 6, 1862 until 
his resignation on April 25, 1864. An 1884 history of Cumberland County 
states that Talbot resigned because of disability, and returned home to Green- 
up, where he ran a mill. Counties of Cumberland, Jasper and Richland, 
Illinois, Chicago, F.A. Battery & Co., 1884, p. 277. 

50 Cavins, p. 8; Letter, W. F. Cavins to the writer, November 6, 1951. Mr. 
Bresee later lived near Mattoon, where Mr. Cavins interviewed him in his 

President Lincoln and the Chadeston Rioters 

DENNIS HANKS wrote to the President, from Charleston, on 

April 5, 1864: 

Abe we had a horible time a Munday of court it broke up got in to 
a fuss by a drunkin Soldier I never saw such a time Thare was 8 or 
10 killed in the fight one you no Doct York of paris Edgar County 
young E. winkler was wounded. . . .* 

Dennis was referring to the "Charleston Riot" of March 28, 1864, 
a fight between soldiers on leave and "Copperheads/' in which six 
soldiers and three civilians were killed and four soldiers and 
eight civilians were wounded. The incident took place on the 
public square of Charleston. 2 There had been bad blood for 
some time between the soldiers and those local civilians who 
were opposed to the Lincoln administration. Monday, March 28, 
proved to be a day to settle old scores. The town was crowded, 
for it was "court day" and in addition the local Democratic Con- 
gressman, John R. Eden, was scheduled to make a speech. It 
also was the last day of furlough for the men of the 54th Illinois 
Volunteer Infantry. Companies C and G included many Coles 
County men who were in town for a last celebration before re- 
joining their regiment. The resulting "Charleston Riot" was the 
bloodiest affair of its kind in the North during the Civil War. 
It was not a "draft riot," such as was the fighting in New York 
City in July 1863. 

Twenty-nine persons were arrested by the military for par- 
ticipation in the riot and were sent to Camp Yates near Spring- 
field on April 8. Of these, thirteen were shortly released, one 
died at Camp Yates, and fifteen were sent to Fort Delaware, 
Delaware, where they were held until November 4, 1864, when 
President Lincoln ordered: "Let these prisoners be sent back to 
Coles County, 111., those indicted to be surrendered to the 

1 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 32134. 

2 Charles H. Coleman and Paul H. Spence: "The Charleston Riot," in 
Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, March 1940, pp. 7-56. The 
following account is based on that article, with additional material not avail- 
able to the authors in 1940. 


President Lincoln and Charleston Rioters 227 

sheriff of said county, and the others be discharged." 3 Thus did 
President Lincoln give the civil authority precedence over the 
military. Only two of the fifteen prisoners at Fort Delaware 
were among the fourteen alleged participants in the riot indicted 
by the Coles County Circuit Court grand jury on June 11, 1864. 
These two men, George Washington Rardin and John F. Red- 
mon, were brought to trial at Effingham, Illinois, on December 
7, 1864, on a change of venue, and were acquitted. 

Two Coles County men brought the plight of the fifteen prison- 
ers at Fort Delaware to the attention of the President; his second 
cousin Dennis Hanks and Orlando B. Ficklin. Both went to 
Washington to see the President in behalf of the prisoners. Ac- 
cording to local tradition the families and friends of the prisoners 
raised $1,000 which they gave to Ficklin to go to Washington. 
Ficklin failed to see Lincoln because he arrived at the time of 
the excitement over General Jubal Early's raid on the capital 
on July 11 and 12, 1864. Hanks then offered to go to Washing- 
ton and declined any payment other than his expenses. He saw 
the President, and the release of the prisoners followed. That 
is the tradition. 

Two telegrams from Lincoln to judicial friends in Illinois on 
July 2, 1864, and correspondence between the President and 
Ficklin, appear to disprove this tradition. Lincoln took an in- 
terest in the Coles County prisoners before Ficklin's visit. On 
July 2, Lincoln sent identical telegrams to his old Illinois friends, 
Judges Samuel H. Treat and David Davis, as follows: "Please 
give me a summary of the evidence, with your impression, on the 
Coles county riot cases. I send the same request to Judge Davis 
[Treat]." Both replied, but Davis' letter has not been found. 
Treat replied by wire on July 4: "The record in the case of the 
Coles Co. prisoners was ordered to be certified to the president it 
contains the whole case in my opinion the prisoners should have 
been surrendered to the civil authorities under the act of March 
Third (3) eighteen sixty three (1863) Judge Davis was of the 
same opinion." 4 

Later in the same month (July), Ficklin reached Washington. 
It is not clear whether or not he saw Lincoln, but Lincoln wrote 
to him while he remained in the city, on July 22. Evidently 
Judges Davis and Treat had inclined the President to release the 

3 Collected Works, vol. VIII, p. 90. 
Collected Works, vol. VII, pp. 421-423. 


prisoners, when a military report caused him to hesitate. Lin- 
coln wrote to Ficklin as follows: 

I had about concluded to send the Coles County men home, turning 
over the indicted to the authorities, and discharging the others, when 
Col. Oaks' 5 report, with the evidence he had taken in the case was put 
in my hands. The evidence is very voluminous, and Col. Oaks says it 
fully implicates every one of the sixteen [fifteen] now held; and so far 
as I have been able to look into it, his statement is sustained. I cannot 
now decide the case until I shall have fully examined this evidence. 6 

Ficklin, still in Washington, replied at once: 

I have received your note in reference to the Coles County prisoners 
& appreciate the embarrassment under which you are placed by the 
report of Col. Oaks. The evidence on which his report is based is not 
only wholly exparte but was taken when the town was a military camp 
& the whole community was excited beyond description. 

Richard Robinson (brother to James C. Robinson) , was proven to 
be there, was arrested at his house in Clark County and brought to 
Charleston & the best men in his neighborhood without distinction of 
party proved that he was at home all day drunk. 7 

I could cite other cases of similar character which simply prove that 
there were mistakes growing out of excitement intensified. 

If these men can be tried at home or if the testimony can be retaken, 
before any fair minded man it will establish the innocence of those 
not indicted. 

I deprecate & openly denounce all resistance to or violation of law 
as much as any one can or need to, but the community genuinely be- 
lieves most of these men to be innocent & they have confidence that you 
will not allow them to be sacrificed for the sins of others. I leave this 
matter in your hands in the full confidence that you will deal justly 
by these men. 8 

Ficklin returned to Charleston, but he did not let the matter 
drop as the men remained in confinement. He asked Thomas A. 
Marshall to write to the President, and did so again himself, en- 
closing Marshall's letter, who wrote from Charleston on August 
23, 1864: 

I am requested by our old friend Ficklin to write to you my notions 
about releasing the 15 copperheads that were arrested for being con- 
cerned in the outbreak here last spring & have been taken to Fort 

I think none of them are of sufficient consequence to be made state- 
prisoners of. Several of them were I hear not indicted for any offence 
by the grand jury of this county which body was thoroughly loyal & 
well disposed to bring all to justice, against whom there was any proof. 

I think those who were indicted had better be handed over to the 
authorities here for trial & the others let loose. Most of them are poor 
miserable devils, that can do but little good or harm in any way. The 

5 Lieut. Col. James Oakes, assistant provost marshall general for Illinois, 
who had recommended that the prisoners be tried by military rather than 
civil law. 

Collected Works, vol. VII, p. 455. 

7 Robinson was not one of those imprisoned at Fort Delaware. James C. 
Robinson of Marshall, Clark County, was a Democratic member of Congress, 
1859-1865, and 1871-1875. He was defeated for Governor in 1864. 

8 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 34690. July 22, 1864 (?) . Also in 
Collected Works, vol. VII, p. 455 note. 

President Lincoln and Charleston Rioters 229 

leaders and indeed most of the actors in the affair here have so far 

escaped arrest. So far as 1 understand the feeling here the public would 

be satisfied to have the prisoners discharged. 

Ficklin sent Marshall's letter on to Lincoln with one of his 

own which he wrote from Charleston on September 10. Why 

Ficklin delayed over two weeks in forwarding Marshall's letter 

is not clear. Ficklin wrote: 

I beg leave to enclose you the letter of our mutual friend Thomas 

A. Marshall, than whom no more ultra Republican lives in this latitude. 

He tells you of the insignificance & want of influence & of consequence 

of the 15 Coles Co. prisoners. Why keep them confined in Fort 


Powerless for good or evil, & wholly disconnected with the Coles Co. 
riot, their confinement is entirely without significance. It is a punish- 
ment to innocent men but furnish no warning to the guilty. Washing- 
ton Raridan 10 is in Hospital with slight hopes of recovery. Send him 
home to be tried at our Court on the 4th Monday of this month. He 
can give all the bail required, but kept there he is likely to die. 

I have told the friends of these prisoners that I had known you long 
& well & that you would not keep them in prison when there was no 
proof of their guilt. What have they done that is worthy of death or 
of bonds? Raridan, Brooks & Shelburne 11 are now in hospital with a 
fair prospect of not getting out alive. Can you not be merciful to the 
afflicted & give ear to the wailings of the wife and children of each of 
these afflicted and wrongfully punished men? 

Republicans, Democrats & Conservatives here all unite in asking that 
these men be tried or discharged & why can it not be done? Is the 
government afraid of a trial in open day? From March till September 
these men have pined in a prison & most of them have no more con- 
nection than your Excellency with the Coles Co. raid. W r hy then hold 
them. The 54, Col. Mitchell's Regt captured at Devall's Bluff arrive 
daily & will all be here soon. 12 

I beg of you to act in the case of the Coles Co. prisoners. 13 
It is difficult to say what effect these letters had on Lincoln's 
decision to release the prisoners. He received them in July and 
September, and the men were not returned to Coles County until 
November. Lincoln's release order followed the action he told 
Ficklin he had proposed to take in July, before receiving Colonel 
Oakes' report. Marshall also recommended the same course in 
his letter of August 23. 

In addition to Colonel Oakes, Major Addison A. Hosmer, act- 
ing Judge Advocate General, on July 26 also recommended that 
the Coles County prisoners be tried by military rather than by 
civil authority. 14 After Lincoln had heard from Marshall and 

9 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 35511. 

10 George Washington Rardin. 

11 Blueford E. Brooks, Miner Shelbourne. 

12 Most of the soldiers involved in the Charleston Riot were members of the 
54th Illinois Infantry, Col. Greenville M. Mitchell of Charleston, commanding. 

13 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 36127. 

14 Official Records, Series I, vol. xxxii, part 1, pp. 635-643. Lincoln's release 
order of November 4 took the form of an endorsement on Major Hosmer's 
report to the President. 


Ficklin he may have seen another report, dated September 30, 
from Hugh L. Bond and John C. King, civilian commissioners 
named by the War Department to hear and pass on the cases of 
"prisoners of state" at Forts Delaware and McHenry. Thirty-two 
were held at Fort Delaware, including the fifteen from Coles 
County. The report recommended that four prisoners be handed 
over to the civil authorities for trial, and that eighteen be released 
upon taking the oath of allegiance. Although the report did not 
list the twenty-two by name, the nature of the other recommen- 
dations suggests that the Coles County prisoners were among 
them. 15 

It is clear that Lincoln was under pressure from two sides. The 
military wanted their pound of flesh for the soldiers murdered 
in Charleston. Lincoln's Illinois friends; Davis, Treat, Marshall 
and Ficklin, were urging a vindication of the civil authority. Nor 
should we lose sight of the over-all national picture in the summer 
and fall of 1864 — the tense military situation in Georgia and 
Virginia, 16 the presidential election campaign, marked by bitter 
opposition to the President from the Radical members of his own 
party, 17 and the endless succession of appeals to his mercy from 
the relatives of court-martialled soldiers. It is no wonder that the 
release order for the Coles County men was delayed; indeed, it 
is surprising that the order came when it did, four days before 
the national election, which was held on November 8. 

It is doubtful if the visit of Dennis Hanks to the President had 
any influence. Hanks saw Lincoln in May, before Ficklin saw him 
in July. The family tradition has it that the released prisoners 
reached home before Hanks returned from Washington. This 
would indicate a second trip to Washington by Hanks, around 
the first of November. There is no evidence of such a second trip. 
Herndon's account of Hanks' visit states that his plea was not im- 
mediately successful, as Lincoln refused to override Secretary of 
War Stanton's objection to releasing the prisoners. 18 

Hanks' May trip to Washington is established by Lincoln's en- 
dorsement, dated May 15, 1864, on a letter presented to him by 
Hanks from W. F. Shriver, which informed Lincoln that it would 
"be presented to you by Father Hanks." Furthermore on June 8, 

15 Official Records, Series II, vol. vii, pp. 898-899. The report was addressed 
to the Secretary of War. 

16 Sherman versus Hood in Georgia, Atlanta captured on September 2; Grant 
versus Lee, Sheridan versus Early in Virginia, battle of Cedar Creek on Oc- 
tober 19. 

17 Wade-Davis Manifesto, August 5. 
18 Herndon, p. 418. 

President Lincoln and Charleston Rioters 231 

1864, in a letter to John J. Hall, Hanks stated "I have bin to see 
Old Abe." 19 

If Hanks' May 1864 visit to Washington was his only visit to 
see the President (which is probable), then Herndon was right, 
and the family tradition is wrong concerning the effect of Hanks' 
visit on the release of the Coles County prisoners. 

In later years Hanks told his story of his visit to the President 
at the White House. Robert Mclntyre of Charleston asked Hanks 
if he had ever visited Lincoln in Washington. Hanks replied: 

Certainly; there were some folks arrested in Charleston, and I for 
their folks' sake, went on durin' the war to get them free, for it was 
best. I got there and found the White House surrounded with soldiers. 
I got up to the door to go in, and a reporter [means porter] stopped 
me and said: "Who do you want to see?" I said, "Mr. Lincoln." He 
said, "You can't see him; it aint the time of day yet." "I hain't come 
here from Illinois for nothin'." He grinned and showed me the door 
to his office. Outside was a heap of fellers waitin' to get in to see the 
President. I opened the door kinder soft, and at the other end of a 
big room sat Abe at an old desk worth about six bits. "Hey?" I 
hollered, "you're a pretty President, ain't ye?" He looked up and said, 
"Well, Dennis is that you?" and made a run and just gathered me. 
When I could git able to talk I said: "I don't want no offis, Abe." He 
said, "most of 'em do Dennis" and smiled kinder tired. I told my 
errand and he said to come up next morning and he would fix it. We 
talked an hour as friendly as ever about long-ago times, then he told 
me to go down to the house and see Mary — that's his wife. She's 
dead now, poor soul. I knowed they was too high-falutin' down to 
Mary's for me, so I went to a tavern and put up. Next morning I 
went up, and Abe had an arm-load of indictments, and he said, "take 
these over to Stanton and he'll fix it." I said, "Abe, I don't know 
where the plaguegoned place is." So he called a reporter standin' by 
and said: "Take these to Mr. Stanton." Pretty soon Mr. Stanton, in 
a bobtail coat, came in. He didn't want to let 'em go; but Abe was 
kind and made him sign 'em. When Stanton went out, I said: "Abe, 
if I was as big as you are, I would take Stanton over my knee and 
spank him." He laughed and said, "it is not easy to keep my cabinet 
all in good humor." I left an' came home and never saw him again. 
The next spring he was killed. 20 

Another incident of Hanks' visit, not mentioned by him in the 
above account, was the gift of a silver watch to him by the Presi- 

19 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 32945; Sandburg, Collector, p. 95. 
F. B. Carpenter, the artist who was at the White House from February to 
July, 1864, while painting a picture of Lincoln and his cabinet (now in the 
Capitol) , tells of a visit to the President by Dennis Hanks. One object of the 
visit was to see if Lincoln "would do something for one of his boys." Car- 
penter, p. 299. 

20 Lerna Weekly Eagle, Lincoln Anniversary issue, February 1928. Dennis 
Hanks gave Mrs. Gridley a similar account in 1891. He included in this 
version of the Washington trip story a statement that he was offered $1,200 
to make the trip, and accepted the offer. He also stated that the released 
prisoners got back to Charleston ahead of him. Gridley, pp. 157-158. Hanks' 
account evidently was the origin of the family tradition to that effect. The 
writer believes that the whole story of the visit illustrates Hanks' tendency 
to magnify his own importance in all matters relating to Abraham Lincoln. 


dent. The story is that when changing trains at Altoona, Pennsyl- 
vania, on the trip to Washington, Hanks lost his watch and money 
to a pickpocket. He told Lincoln of his loss. Many years later, in a 
letter to Oliver R. Barrett, T. B. Shoaff, a grandson of Dennis 
Hanks, described the incident. After learning of Dennis* loss, 
"Lincoln turned around and took from his desk an old silver 
watch he had carried around over the State of Illinois, and from 
Springfield to Washington, saying 'Dennis you may have this 
watch. I have carried it a long time. Take it home and take care 
of it'." He then showed Dennis the gold watch he was carrying, 
a present from some Washington admirers. 21 

The watch remained in Hanks' possession until shortly before 
his death, which occurred on October 21, 1892. 22 He showed the 
watch to Eleanor Atkinson during her interview with him in 
January 1889. He told her, "Thar's a feller up in Chicago, that's 
plumb crazy over Abe, an' he offered me five hundred dollars 
fur it." 23 The "feller up in Chicago" was Mr. Charles F. Gunther, 
who bought the watch for $500 through Hanks' granddaughter, 
Mrs. M. M. Barney, of Paris, Illinois. 24 Mr. Gunther placed 
the watch on exhibit in the old Libby Prison building in Chicago, 
which was exhibited to the public at the time of the World's Fair 

21 T. B. Shoaff, Paris, 111., to Oliver R. Barrett, Chicago, October 1, 1930. 
Copy of the letter in files of Illinois State Historical Library, Springfield. Also 
in Paris, Illinois, Daily Beacon-News, February 12, 1941. Mr. Shoaff died a 
few years prior to 1941. 

22 The circumstances of his death were tragic. As told by George E. Mason 
in the San Diego, California, Sun, Hanks had been visiting his daughter, Mrs. 
Nancy Shoaff, at Paris, 111. On "Emancipation Day" the negroes of Paris 
invited Hanks to attend a celebration and occupy a seat on the platform, 
which he did. After the meeting he started home alone, and as he was almost 
blind, he was run over by a team of horses and was fatally injured. Undated 
clipping, about 1900, in scrapbook belonging to Mrs. Walton Alexander of 

23 Atkinson, pp. 46-47. 

24 On July 5, 1890, Mrs. Barney wrote to Mr. Gunther: "I was over to 
Charleston yesterday and saw Grandpa Hanks. He wanted to know if I 
could sell the watch he carries that belonged to Lincoln, said if he could 
get what he at one time was offered $500 he would sell it now, as he was 
more in need of money than watch and I thought I would write you/' 
Original letter in possession of Waltham Watch Co., Waltham, Mass. Photo- 
stat to writer, courtesy of Mr. H. R. Williams, Waltham Watch Co. Hanks 
turned the watch over to Mrs. Barney for sale. On May 14, 1891, he executed 
an affidavit in which he stated: "This watch was presented to me by Abraham 
Lincoln in 1864 at Washington city, D. C, where I had gone to intercede for 
some men who had been in a riot at Charleston, Ills. The watch he gave me 
is a silver 'Waltham' case No. E279- Wm. Ellery movement- key-winder - 
No. 67613 - Boston, Mass." Hanks added in his affidavit that "I am a full 
cousin of Abraham Lincoln, and taught him to read and write." Original 
in possession of Waltham Watch Co. Photostat to writer, courtesy of Mr. 
H. R. Williams. 

President Lincoln and Charleston Rioters 233 

of 1893. Gunther sold the watch to Oliver R. Barrett. When Mr. 
Barrett's collection of Lincolniana was sold by auction in Feb- 
ruary 1952, the watch was purchased by the Waltham Watch 
Company. 25 

25 Oliver R. Barrett Lincoln Collection. Auction Sale Catalogue, 1952, item 
483, pp. 182-184. 

A Charleston Adviser to tke President 

AMONG THE LETTERS to President Lincoln in the Robert 
Todd Lincoln Collection, first opened to the public in 1947, is 
a series of letters from Thomas A. Marshall of Charleston, from 
some of which we have already quoted. The letters discuss ap- 
pointments and other political matters, but they also include 
many pertinent observations by Marshall on the conduct of the 
war. Marshall's long and close friendship with Lincoln enabled 
him to write with complete frankness, although the tone of the 
letters was always respectful. April 14, 1861, immediately upon 
the fall of Fort Sumter, Marshall wrote from Charleston to en- 
courage Lincoln to pursue a bold policy: 

Pursue no halting policy. Do not fear to march right up to the limit 
of all the power conferred on you. The blood of the North is up, take 
advantage of it. Garrison Washington and Harper's Ferry, and New- 
port Ky. and St. Louis or Jefferson Barracks with heavy bodies of 
Northern volunteers. It is the way to save the border states. 1 

Two months later on June 16, 1861, Marshall again advised 
Lincoln concerning the policy to pursue regarding the border 

You will unquestionably need more troops. You ought to make quick 
work with Missouri. I have no faith in Kentucky & believe that 
Crittenden & his friends only make matters worse. I fear in sending 
arms there you are only aiding the traitors unless you send a strong 
military force there. All good Union men would be glad to see a 
strong government army among them & whoever would be offended 
at that will prove a secessionist in the end. I am sorry Genl McClellan 
censured Prentiss for breaking up a secession camp in Ky. I had hoped 
we were done with that policy. ... It is no time to temporize with 
treason. You have drawn troops from Wisconsin and Indiana to the 
east, while the best fighting states against you are in the west, Tennes- 
see, Missouri & Kentucky and you may as well make up your mind 
you have got them all to fight. 2 

Marshall was a Colonel, in command of the First Illinois 
Cavalry from July 19, 1861, to July 14, 1862. The day following 
the mustering out of his regiment and his own release from 
service, Colonel Marshall wrote to Lincoln from Benton Barracks, 

1 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 9067. 

2 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 10315. 


A Charleston Adviser to the President 235 

offering his suggestions regarding the improvement of officer 
personnel, the organization of the army, and the raising of troops, 
based on his own experiences in the service: 

First the Army ought to be purged of unworthy officers. Rigid exam- 
ination should be at once instituted, and no man allowed to receive 
or retain a commission, unless his qualifications are fair. . . . Next 
there ought not to be any new regiments received into the service. 
You have regimental organizations enough already. It is in every way 
wasteful and wrong to increase the number. There are regiments in 
the field, with full sets of officers of all kinds & less than 200 men. I 
presume none are full. . . . But will you dismiss these officers, because 
their men have been killed in battle or by disease in your service, 
especially when they understand the business of soldiering so much 
better than new men can. If you do you make a terrible mistake. Nor 
will it do to reply that new regiments will be officered by men from 
old regiments. That is true, but what sort of men will get new Com- 
missions. Often as I know the very meanest & worst. The good ones 
are not hanging around Governors' Mansions, for executive favor. They 
are in the fielcl trying to make the most of the handful of men they 
have left. It is those who care for nothing but the pay and promotion, 
& by one false pretext or another have been able to leave their regiment 
and hang around cities that get promotions in new regiments. Besides 
it will take six months to raise new regiments & fit them for the field. 
... It may be said that you can not fill up old regiments by the volun- 
teer system. Then fill them by draft. You can't get new regiments by 
the volunteer system in time to do any good . . . adopt some sure and 
simple system of drafting, fill your regiments to the maximum in 30 
days. Let your conscripts go in with your veterans, and under ex- 
perienced officers who have staid in the field. . . . Your $25 bounty in 
advance is well enough but give it to the conscripts. You will be able 
to get far better material by drafting. 3 
Marshall's advice was sound. The conscription which he pro- 
posed was authorized in March 1863. The problem of officering 
and organizing regiments raised by the states was complicated by 
state control. It was not until the first World War that the entire 
national military establishment in time of war was placed ex- 
clusively under Federal jurisdiction in matters of regimental 
organization and officer appointments. 

Twelve days later, on July 27, 1862, after his return to 
Charleston, Marshall wrote to Lincoln again. He described the 
extent of volunteering in Charleston, again urged the use of 
the draft, and impressed upon Lincoln the advantages which 
would come from freeing the slaves. Marshall wrote: 

Volunteering, if we may believe the papers, is going on finely, it may 
be so in other places, nothing is being done here. A war meeting at 
the Court House yesterday was well attended. The house would not 
hold the people. Fine speeches were made. A band of music as well 
as the Drum and fife were on hand to kindle enthusiasm. The result 
was, that besides the self chosen Captain & Lieutenants, three men 
volunteered. Yet Coles County is not exhausted. There were 500 a>>le 
bodied men in the Court House yard yesterday after noon & I think 

3 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 17125. 


there are at least 100 in this town, between the ages of 18 & 30, who 
are unmarried. Not one of them will volunteer. The right plan is to 
make a levy en masse, put the young unmarried men into active duty, 
& organize the others as a reserve. Men with families have no business 
in the ranks while the country is full of those who have no such charge 
upon them. I have not read the law. I do not know whether you 
have technically the power to do these things or not, but I do know 
that something energetic must be done, to inspire public opinion. . . . 

To me it seems that so long as the Rebellion is sustained by the 
labor of the slaves & the energy of leaders that are really in earnest, 
it will make head against such measures & such leaders as are trusted 
to overthrow it. . . . You must weaken the enemy by depriving him 
of the service of the negro. This can be easily done — promise them 
freedom Sc they will come to you by the 100,000. I saw enough in 
Arkansas to know that this is true. But the author of Order No. 3 
is Commander in Chief. 4 

This nation can not exist half slave & half free. It is not often that 
the opportunity is given to a man, to do as much good as you can now 
do. You can make this nation all free. You can preserve its existence. 
You can give freedom to 4,000,000 of human beings. You can make 
yourself the greatest benefactor of the human race, that God ever per- 
mitted to walk the earth. But you cant do it, by pursuing a halting 
policy — you cant do it by listening to the authors of the border state 
address to you, 5 nor can you as I fear do it by entrusting the command 
of your armies to men who have no sympathies with you on these 
subjects. If it is necessary to have Halleck & McClellan to command 
your armies, & so continue to lay month after month digging ditches 
at least make them open in every camp a recruiting office for niggers, & 
thus they will do something to weaken the enemy. 

You certainly know that no great object good or bad was ever ac- 
complished except by boldness. Suppose Caesar had stopped to dig a 
ditch at the Rubicon. Suppose he or Cromwell or Alexander or Moses 
had consulted the Crittendens & border state men of their day. What 
would they have accomplished. You have the opportunity to play with 
the chances in your favor for the greatest prize that fame can bestow, 
but if you do not play with the utmost boldness, you lose it. G 

Such letters as this one were welcome to Lincoln, as they 
strengthened him in his decision in favor of emancipation — a de- 
cision he had announced to his cabinet on July 22, 1862, five days 
before Marshall wrote. Marshall, of course, did not know that 
Lincoln was awaiting a propitious moment to issue his procla- 
mation of emancipation for the slaves of those in arms against 
the United States. The Battle of Sharpsburg on September 17, 
1862, followed by Lee's withdrawal across the Potomac, gave 

4 The reference is to General John Pope who was given command of the 
Army of the Potomac in July 1862, only to be soundly defeated by General 
Lee at the Second Battle of Manassas on August 30. While in command in 
northern Missouri in the summer of 1861, Pope had issued on July 31 his 
"General Order No. 3" which sought to place responsibility for suppressing 
marauders and guerrillas on the local inhabitants. The order was a failure, 
and led to the military operations which culminated in the Battle of Lex- 
ington and the capture of Colonel Marshall and his regiment. Text of order 
in Official Records, series I, vol. iii, pp. 417-419. 

5 Address of Border States Convention, Frankfort, Ky., June 8, 1861. 
c Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 17284. 

A Charleston Adviser to the President 237 

Lincoln the opportunity he needed, and the proclamation was 
issued on September 22, to become effective on the first of Janu- 

On one occasion President Lincoln received advice from an- 
other Charleston friend, Dr. William M. Chambers, brigade 
surgeon in the army. Chambers' letter was to W. P. Dole, Super- 
intendent of Indian Affairs, and was forwarded by Dole to the 
President. Chambers wrote from General Hospital No. 15, Nash- 
ville, Tennessee, on December 10, 1863 as follows: 

You can get the ear of the President. 

Tell him to either make a Head to the Medical Dept of the Army 
or abolish the whole thing. I dont think it fair that we should be 
denied a head. 

Individuals are small affairs now. Let us have right. The Secretary 
of War* is a man, — that is all, and has no right as we all think to 
sacrifice a noble and time honored profession to passion or because of 
fancied or real derelictions of one individual. 

I ask nothing for Chambers. I am ever for "Father Abraham." I 
think him a man of more unbending integrity than any man in the 
country. God bless him! 

The reverse of the letter has this undated notation: 
Mr. Lincoln 

This is from your old friend Dr. Chambers of Charleston, 111. I 
know nothing of the controversy. I send you the letter as I rec'd it. 

Very truly yours 

W. P. Dole 7 

The writer does not know what effect, if any, this letter had 
on the medical organization of the army. Probably none. 

7 Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, No. 28587. 

In Conclusion 

ABRAHAM LINCOLN was a frequent visitor to Coles County, 
although after 1831 he did not stay for more than a few days at 
any one time. In his Coles County associations we see those warm 
human qualities which have given Lincoln a more intimate place 
in our traditions than that of any other great national leader. 

Lincoln never ignored the humble folk of Goosenest Prairie. 
His relations with his parents were marked by ready help for his 
father when it was needed and by thoughtful concern for his 
stepmother. There was never any note of condescension nor any 
patronizing air in his simple acts of kindness. 

In his Coles County associations we see the many-sided Lincoln. 
Lincoln the lawyer honoring his professional obligation in the 
Matson case even though it gave him an unwanted client. Lin- 
coln the politician planning political strategy with his Coles 
County supporters. Lincoln the story-teller regaling with anec- 
dotes his friends and supporters during an evening at the Mar- 
shall home in Charleston. Lincoln the dutiful son making a 
hurried trip to Goosenest Prairie to see his ailing father when 
his own interest would have sent him post-haste to Washington 
to secure a lucrative political appointment. President-elect Lin- 
coln the devoted stepson, embracing his aged and toil-worn step- 
mother and sitting down to a meal with the village neighbors in 
the humble home of his stepsister. President Lincoln the merci- 
ful, releasing the imprisoned Charleston rioters. 



CHRONOLOGY. The Lincolns in Coles County, 1830-1869 
Locations in Coles County associated with Abraham Lincoln 
Sources of Information 


The Lincolns in Coles County, 7830-7869 

1830 March 10 

* March 1 1 

March 12 

1831 May 


1834 March 14 
November 25 

1835 March 4 

December 1 

1836 October 8 

1837 January 14 
May 3 

August 4 

December 27 

Lincoln-Hanks-Hall party of 13 persons entered Coles 
County near present-day location of Westfield on way 
from Indiana to Macon County, Illinois. Spent night 
near Parker's Ford. 

Travelled from near Parker's Ford to Paradise settle- 
ment near Wabash Point. Spent night at home of Icha- 
bod Radley or John Sawyer. 

Visited at home of John Sawyer at Paradise settlement. 
Left Coles County on way to Macon County. Their 
route took them near the present village of Coles. 
Thomas Lincoln family with Hankses and Halls re- 
turned to Coles County from Macon County. Settled 
on public land at Buck Grove farm. Thomas Lincoln 
did not buy this land. 

Visit of Abraham Lincoln to Buck Grove farm. Inci- 
dent of wrestling match with Daniel Needham. 
Thomas Lincoln purchased 40-acre Muddy Point farm 
from his stepson, John D. Johnston, for $75. Johnston 
had entered this public land on May 23, 1833. 
Thomas Lincoln purchased 80 acres of public land (the 
"Plummer Place") . He gave a mortgage for $102 to 
Charles S. Morton, School Commissioner. Mortgage 
paid February 23, 1838. 

Thomas Lincoln, John D. Johnston, Squire Hall, 
Dennis Hanks, and William Moffett signed lease for 
operation of saw and grist mill on the Embarrass River. 
Abraham Lincoln visited his parents before session of 
legislature at Vandalia, while they were living at the 
Muddy Point farm. 

Thomas Lincoln, Johnston, Hanks and Hall lost suit 
to Noel J. Jones over non-payment of rent on mill. 
Judgment of $138.69 to Jones. 

Thomas Lincoln purchased 80 acres of public land near 
his later home at Goosenest Prairie. 
Thomas Lincoln sold his Muddy Point farm to Alex- 
ander Montgomery for $140. Moved to the 80-acre farm 
he had purchased in November 1834. 
John D. Johnston purchased 40 acres of public land at 
Goosenest Prairie. The Thomas Lincoln and Johnston 
families moved to this farm. 

Thomas Lincoln sold the 80-acre Plummer Place farm 
to Daniel P. Needham. 




September or 

September 30 

December 31 

1841 May 24 

May 28 

1840 March 5 Thomas Lincoln exchanged with Reuben Moore the 80 

acres he purchased on January 14, 1837, for 80 acres 
joining Johnston's land on the west. The resulting 120 
acres is known as Thomas Lincoln's Goosenest Prairie 
farm. The cabin on Johnston's land was moved to the 
new purchase and an addition made to it. 
Abraham Lincoln in Charleston. May have made a 
political speech at 14th street north of where the rail- 
road now runs. 

Thomas Lincoln and John D. Johnston won a reversal 
of a judgment against them secured by Isaac Sears in a 
justice of the peace court the preceding March. Abra- 
ham Lincoln may have represented his father and step- 
brother in this case in the circuit court. 
Thomas Lincoln purchased Johnston's 40 acres for $50, 
thus completing his Goosenest Prairie farm. 
Abraham Lincoln may have been in Charleston from 
May 24 through May 29. 

Lincoln for the defendant in Vest vs. Williams et al. 
Lincoln for the defendant in Moore vs. White. Lincoln 
for the defendants in Pearson and Anderson vs. Monroe 
and Easton. 

May 29 Lincoln for the plaintiff in Aertson vs. Ashmore and 


Lincoln for the defendant in Ewing vs. Goodman. 
All of these cases, as well as others listed below, were 
in the Coles County Circuit Court. 

October 25 Lincoln paid his father $200 for the "east forty" 
purchased from Johnston the preceding December. 
Right of use for life reserved for Thomas and Sarah 
Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln was in Charleston at this 

October 26 Lincoln gave bond to John D. Johnston to sell to him 
the 40 acres upon the death of Thomas and Sarah 
1842 March 13 Thomas Lincoln mortgaged the east 40 of his 80-acre 
farm for $50 to the School Trustees. 

May 23 Abraham Lincoln may have been in Charleston from 

May 23 through May 28. 

May 24 Lincoln for the defendant in Patterson vs. Winkler. 

May 27 Lincoln for the defendants in Pearson and Anderson 

vs. Monroe and Easton. 

May 28 Lincoln for the plaintiff in Morris vs. Jones et al. 

Lincoln for the plaintiff in Turney vs. Craig, who re- 
ceived $300 damages on October 29, 1842. 
Lincoln was in Charleston from October 25 through 
October 29. 

Lincoln may have represented the plaintiff in Rodgers 
vs. Stewart. 

Lincoln may have been in Charleston from October 15 
through October 20. 

Lincoln for the plaintiff in Bagley vs. Van Meter. 
Lincoln for the defendant in Alexander vs. Affleck. 
He drove Harriet Hanks to Springfield after this term 
of court. 
1845 May 11 Lincoln probably in Charleston. He may have remained 

until May 18. 

October 25 

1843 May 24 
October 15 

October 16 

1844 October 21 





































February 23 
April 28 
May 1 
November 10 






August 12 

August 31 
November 2 

November 4 

Lincoln for the plaintiff in McKibben vs. Hart. The 
fee of $35 was paid to Thomas Lincoln at his son's re- 

Lincoln for the defendant in Ryan vs. Anderson. 
Lincoln for the defendant in Frost vs. Gillinwater. 
Lincoln for the plaintiff in Eccles vs. True et al. 
Lincoln may have spent a few days in Charleston at 
this time. 

Lincoln may have been in Charleston from May 10 
through May 17. He attended the Coles County Circuit 
Court, May 11 - 14. He probably brought Harriet 
Hanks home from Springfield at this time. 
Lincoln may have been in Charleston for the period 
October 14-21. Lincoln for the defendant in People vs. 
Lester. Indictment on October 14. 

Lincoln for the plaintiffs in Pearson and Anderson vs. 

Lincoln present when October term of Coles County 
Circuit Court opened. 

Lincoln may have spent the week-end of May 14 - 16 in 
Charleston. Lincoln for the defendant in Strader vs. 

Lincoln for the defendant in Linder vs. Fleenor. 
Hiram Rutherford tried to retain Lincoln in Matson 
vs. Rutherford, the famous "Matson slave case." 
Lincoln for the plaintiff in Matson vs. Rutherford. 
Lincoln for the defendant (?) in Watson vs. Gill. 
Lincoln a party in Lincoln vs. Hodges, a suit brought 
in his father's behalf. Lincoln probably not in Charles- 
ton on this day. 

Thomas Lincoln and John D. Johnston wrote to Lin- 
coln for assistance. 

Lincoln wrote to his father from Washington, enclosing 
$20 in response to a request. Lincoln also wrote to John 
D. Johnston, advising him to go to work and offering 
to match his earnings. 

Johnston wrote to Lincoln concerning his father's ill- 

Lincoln in Charleston to visit his father, May 29 - June 

Lincoln wrote to Johnston about a mail contract. 
Lincoln may have been in Charleston, April 28 - May 1. 
Lincoln for the defendant in People vs. Davis. 
Lincoln may have been in Charleston for a few days 
about this time. 

Lincoln wrote to Johnston concerning his father's ill- 

Death of Thomas Lincoln at Goosenest Prairie. 
Lincoln probably visited his stepmother at Goosenest 
Prairie, May 17-18. He made entries in the family 

Lincoln sold Goosenest Prairie farm which he had in- 
herited to John D. Johnston for one dollar. 
Lincoln wrote to Johnston, enclosing deed to farm. 
Lincoln in Charleston. Learned of stepbrother's plan 
to move to Missouri. 

Lincoln wrote to Johnston that he would keep the 
"Abraham forty" for his stepmother's benefit. 



November 9 

November 24 

November 25 

November 27 

1852 May 22 

August 18 

October 16 

1853 November 5 

1854 Summer 

1855 April 12 

1856 May 17 

August 8 

1858 April 23 

September 7 
September 17 

September 18 

September 19 


1861 January 30 
January 31 

Lincoln agreed to bring Abraham Johnston, son of 
John D. Johnston, to Springfield if his wife agreed. She 
did not. Lincoln agreed to sale of "Abraham 40" only 
if he received $300 to use for the benefit of his step- 

Lincoln for Dennis Hanks in Hanks vs. White. Case 
dismissed at plaintiff's cost on October 16, 1852. Lincoln 
was not in Charleston when the case was filed on No- 
vember 24, 1851. 

Lincoln wrote to Johnston repeating his refusal to sell 
the "Abraham Forty" except on the terms of his No- 
vember 9 letter. 

John D. Johnston resold the Goosenest Prairie farm to 
John J. Hall, his nephew, for $250. About this time 
Johnston moved to northern Arkansas. 
Lincoln may have, been in Charleston, May 22 and 23. 
Lincoln may have been present at a meeting held in 
Charleston by the incorporators of the Springfield and 
Terre Haute Railroad. He signed a call for the meet- 

Lincoln not in Charleston when the case of Hanks vs. 
White was dismissed. He may have been in Charleston 
a few days later, possibly October 23 - 24. 
Lincoln may have been in Charleston November 5 and 

There is no record of Lincoln being in Coles County 
during the year 1854. He may have visited his step- 
mother during the latter part of July or early in 

Lincoln represented the plaintiff in Marshall vs. Laugh- 
lin. Lincoln's friend Thomas A. Marshall won the suit 
on April 13, 1856. Lincoln not in Charleston on April 
12, 1855. 

Lincoln may have been in Charleston on May 17 and 

Some time during the summer of 1856 Lincoln secured 
the release of Thomas L. D. Johnston, son of John D. 
Johnston, on a charge of theft at Urbana. 
Lincoln spoke in Charleston in behalf of Fremont and 
Bissell, Republican candidates for president and gov- 

Lincoln wrote to Thomas A. Marshall of Charleston 
on the political situation. 

Lincoln spoke at Mattoon in the political campaign. 
Lincoln in Mattoon, Stayed overnight at the Pennsyl- 
vania House. 

Lincoln in Charleston for the debate with Douglas. He 
stayed overnight at the home of Thomas A. Marshall. 
Lincoln spent the day in Charleston. He probably spent 
the night at the home of A. H. Chapman. 
There is no record of Lincoln being in Coles County 
during the years 1859-1860. 

Lincoln went from Springfield to Charleston. Spent the 
night at the home of Thomas A. Marshall. 
Lincoln visited his stepmother at Farmington and 
visited the grave of his father at Shiloh cemetery. Spoke 
in Charleston at Mount and Hill Hall. Spent the night 
at the home of Augustus H. Chapman. 



February 1 
1864 November 4 

1867 December 19 

1869 April 


Lincoln returned to Springfield from Charleston. This 
was Lincoln's last visit to Coles County. 
Lincoln ordered the release of fifteen Charleston Riot 
prisoners held at Fort Delaware. 

Mrs. Abraham Lincoln (Mary Todd Lincoln) wrote 
to Mrs. Thomas Lincoln (Sarah Bush Johnston Lin- 
coln) sending her a gift. 

Death of Mrs. Thomas Lincoln at Goosenest Prairie 
farm. Interment in Shiloh cemetery. 

Locations in Coles County Associated with 
Abraham Lincoln 

ALTHOUGH NEVER a Coles County resident, Abraham Lin- 
coln was a frequent visitor to the county from 1840 to 1861. Prior 
to 1840 there are only three probable instances of his being in 
the county: when he crossed it in March 1830, when he visited 
his folks at Buck Grove in July 1831, and when Usher F. Linder 
saw him in Charleston in the late fall of 1835. Following the 
addition of Shelby County to the eighth judicial circuit in Feb- 
ruary 1841, Lincoln came to Coles County with some degree of 
regularity. There were three reasons for this: family, profes- 
sional, and political. The presence of his father and stepmother 
in the county was a strong reason for Lincoln to accept legal 
cases in Charleston, since his professional visits gave him an 
opportunity to see them. On at least three occasions (1840, 1856, 
1858), Lincoln visited the county primarily as a political cam- 

It is manifestly impossible to list all of the locations in Coles 
County where Lincoln may have been. The following list in- 
cludes the places which we know he visited, or for which there 
is a tradition of such visits. These places are listed by present 

Hutton Township 

The Sargent homestead near Saulsbury, located on what was the "old York 
and Charleston trail" in ihe 1830's and 1840's. It is a tradition in the Sargent 
family that Lincoln stopped here on two or more occasions. 
About three miles east of the "Five Mile House" (which is on State route 
130) , and a little north, near the Charleston-Westfied road, was the location 
of the James Rennels cabin, built in 1832 by a recent arrival from Kentucky. 
In 1926 this cabin, in an excellent state of preservation, was donated by Joel 
R. Rennels, son of James Rennels, to the Sally Lincoln Chapter of the 
Daughters of the American Revolution. It was moved to Morton Park in 
Charleston, where it serves as the Chapter House of the Sally Lincoln Chap- 
ter. A porch, a new chimney and a "lean-to" room on one side have been 
added to the original rectangular cabin. According to Rennels family tradi- 
tion, Abraham Lincoln visited the cabin more than once. A century ago its 
location was near the old York-Charleston road, the route between Charleston 



and Marshall in Clark County. Traveling along this road, Lincoln may well 
have stopped at the Rennels home as well as that of Stephen Sargent. Local 
tradition in Hutton Township has the Thomas Lincoln party using the York- 
Charleston route in the 1830 migration, rather than the route as marked by 
the Lincoln National Memorial Highway in its eastern Coles County section. 

Charleston Township and City (Street names were changed in 1895. Present 
names are used) 

Parker's Ford and Mill (Blakeman's Ford) , near the present bridge on route 
130 over the Embarrass River. March 10, 1830. 

A site north of the Big Four tracks, at about 14th street, in the city, where 
Lincoln may have made a political speech in 1840, and possibly again in 1856. 
The Courthouse at Charleston. Present building erected 1898-1899. Lincoln 
was in the earlier building many times in connection with his legal practice. 
Capitol House or Johnson Tavern, at 6th and Monroe streets, Linder building 
now on the site. Lincoln visited here on various occasions, including the day 
of the debate with Douglas, when the Capitol House served as Republican 
headquarters. Across the street, where the Charleston National Bank now 
stands, was the Union House or Bunnell Tavern, used by Douglas and his 
friends on the day of the debate. Lincoln visited the Union House at times. 
Mount and Hill Hall, at 5th and Monroe streets, now the location of the 
Charleston Daily News. Lincoln spoke here at least once, at a reception on 
January 31, 1861. 

The offices of local attorneys with whom Lincoln practiced law. That of 
Usher F. Linder was located in the rear of a building where the Panas Build- 
ing now stands at the northeast corner of the square at 7th and Monroe 

The homes of various Charleston friends, including Thomas A. Marshall, on 
Monroe between 4th and 5th streets. Lincoln was a guest here on various 
occasions, including the evening following the debate. When Lincoln visited 
Charleston in 1861, the Marshall home was near 10th and Harrison streets. 
Lincoln spent the night of January 30 with the Marshalls. 
Augustus H. Chapman, according to tradition resided on Jackson street be- 
tween 4th and 5th streets. Here Lincoln was a frequent visitor, and spent 
his last night in Charleston, January 31, 1861, with the Chapmans. Chapman 
did not own this property. Deed records show that the only property Chap- 
man owned in Charleston prior to the Civil War was at the corner of 8th and 
Monroe streets, which he owned from 1852 to 1857. 

Dennis Hanks lived in Charleston for many years, beginning in 1834, when he 
built a house on the south side of Jackson street, five lots west of 4th street. 
Hanks lived there for at least ten years. In 1861 Hanks was living on the west 
side of the square, on the second floor, about where the King Bros, store is 
now located. Lincoln visited Hanks at this location on January 31, 1861. 

Pledsant Grove Township 

Buck Grove home of Thomas Lincoln, 1831-1834, near the northwest corner 
of the township. Here Abraham Lincoln visited in July 1831. 
Muddy Point home of Thomas Lincolh, 1834-1837, about one mile southwest 
of Lerna. Probably visited by Abraham Lincoln in the late fall of 1835. 
Goosenest Prairie farm of Thomas Lincoln, including the eastern forty acres 
owned by Abraham Lincoln after 1841. Abraham Lincoln visited here fre- 
quently from 1840 to 1861. 

Moore House in Farmington (or Campbell) . Home of Lincoln's step-sister, 
the widowed Mrs. Reuben Moore, where Abraham Lincoln visited his step- 
mother on January 31, 1861. 

Isaac Rodgers home, east of the Shiloh cemetery. Lincoln may have stopped 
here on his way to the cemetery on January 31, 1861. 
Shiloh Cemetery, where Lincoln visited his father's grave on January 31, 1861. 

Locations 247 

Paradise Township 

Ichabod Radley home. It may have been near the northeast corner of this 
township. The Lincoln party probably spent the night of March 11 here on 
their way across the county in March 1830. 

Mattoon Township and City 

John Sawyer home near Wabash Point. Visited by Lincoln in 1830 and 1831 
and probably on later occasions. 

Wabash Point, southwest of the city of Mattoon. Visited by Lincoln in 1830 
and 1831 and on numerous other occasions when going from or to Charleston 
and Shelbyville. 

Waddill's Tavern and Relay House, formerly the Langston Relay Station, on 
the Shelbyville Road, a short distance west of Wabash Point, and 300 yards 
east of Old Paradise, most important westside settlement before the found- 
ing of Mattoon in 1855. Probably visited by Lincoln on numerous occasions 
while on this road. He may have stayed overnight there on more than one 

Elisha Linder home, about one mile north of Wabash Point. Linder was a 
relative of the Sawyers and a cousin of Usher F. Linder, with whom Lincoln 
practiced law. Probably visited by Lincoln on more than one occasion. 
Essex House in the city, near the crossing of the two railroads. Lincoln was 
here on more than one occasion during the years 1856-1861. 
Pennsylvania House in the city, on site now occupied by Bergner's store. 
Lincoln spent the night of September 17, 1858, here. 

Sources of Information. 

Books — Biographies and Autobiographies 

Isaac N. Arnold: The Life of Abraham Lincoln. Chicago, Jansen, McClurg 

& Co., 1885. 
Eleanor Atkinson: The Boyhood of Lincoln. N.Y., The McClure Co., 1908. 
William E. Barton: The Life of Abraham Lincoln. Indianapolis, Bobbs- 

Merrill Co., 1925, vol. I. 
Howard K. Beale (editor) : "The Diary of Edward Bates 1859-1866." Annual 

Report of the American Historical Association, 1930, vol. IV (1933) . 
Albert J. Beveridge: Abraham Lincoln. Boston, Houghton-Mifflin Co., 1928, 

vol. I. 
L. P. Brockett: The Life and Times of Abraham Lincoln. Phila., Bradley 

& Co., 1865. 
Francis F. Browne: The Everyday Life of Abraham Lincoln. London, John 

Murray, 1914. 
L. White Busbey: Uncle Joe Cannon. N.Y., Henry Holt & Co., 1927. 
Eleanor Gridley: The Story of Abraham Lincoln. Chicago, M. A. Donahue & 

Co., 1927 (1902) . 
William H. Herndon and Jesse W. Weik: Abraham Lincoln. The True Story 

of a Great Life. N. Y., D. Appleton & Co., 1928 (1892) . Also, Herndon's 

Life of Lincoln. N. Y., Albert & Charles Boni, 1930 (notes by Paul M. 

Angle) . 
Emanuel Hertz: Abraham Lincoln. A New Portrait. N. Y., Horace Liveright, 

1931, vol. I. 
J. G. Holland: The Life of Abraham Lincoln. Springfield, Mass., Gurdon 

Bill, 1866. 
Ward H. Lamon: The Life of Abraham Lincoln. Boston, J. R. Osgood & 

Co., 1872. 
Usher F. Linder: Reminiscences of the Early Bench and Bar of Illinois. Chi- 
cago, Chicago Legal News Co., 1879. 
John G. Nicolay and John Hay: Abraham Lincoln. A History. New York, 

The Century Co., 1890, vol. I. 
Theodore C. Pease and James G. Randall (editors) : "The Diary of Orville 

Hickman Browning." Collections of the Illinois State Historical Library, 

vols. XX, XXII, Springfield, 1925, 1933. 
Ruth P. Randall: Mary Lincoln. Biography of a Marriage. Boston, Little, 

Brown & Co., 1953. 
Alonzo Rothschild: Honest Abe. A Study in Integrity. Boston, Houghton 

Mifflin Co., 1917. 
Carl Sandburg: Abraham Lincoln. The Prairie Years. N. Y., Harcourt Brace 

& Co., 1926, vol. I. 
Carl Sandburg and Paul M. Angle: Mary Lincoln, Wife and Widow. N. Y., 

Harcourt Brace & Co., 1932. 
Ida M. Tarbell: Life of Lincoln. N. Y., Lincoln History Society, 1924 (1900) . 

Four vols. 
Benjamin P. Thomas: Abraham Lincoln. N. Y., Alfred A. Knopf, 1952. 
Lew Wallace: An Autobiography. N. Y., Harper & Bros., 1906. Two vols. 


Sources of Information 249 

Jesse W. Weik: The Real Lincoln, A Portrait. Boston, Houghton Mifflin Co., 

Henry C. Whitney: A Life of Lincoln. N. Y., Baker & Taylor Co., 1908 (1892) . 

Books — Writings, Speeches, Documents. 

Paul M. Angle: New Letters and Papers of Lincoln. Boston, Houghton Mifflin 

Co., 1930. 
Roy P. Basler: Abraham Lincoln. His Speeches and Writings. Cleveland, 

World Pub. Co., 1946. 
Roy P. Basler: The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. The Abraham 

Lincoln Association. New Brunswick, Rutgers University Press, 1953. 

Nine vols. 
Emanuel Hertz: Abraham Lincoln. A New Portrait. N. Y., Horace Liveright, 

1931. Vol. II, Letters and Documents. 
Emanuel Hertz: The Hidden Lincoln. From the Letters and Papers of 

William H. Herndon. N. Y., The Viking Press, 1938. 
David C. Mearns: The Lincoln Papers. Garden City, Doubleday & Co., 1948. 

Two vols. 
John G. Nicolay and John Hay: Complete Works of Abraham Lincoln. N. Y., 

Francis D. Tandy & Co., 1905. Vols. I, II, VI, IX, X. 

E. E. Sparks: "The Lincoln-Douglas Debates." Collections of Illinois State 

Historical Library, vol. III. Springfield, 1908. 

Gilbert A. Tracy: Uncollected Letters of Abraham Lincoln. Boston, Hough- 
ton Mifflin Co., 1917. 

Rufus Rockwell Wilson: Uncollected Works of Abraham Lincoln. Elmira, 
The Primavera Press, 1947, 1948. Two vols, (to 1845) . 

Books — Special Lincoln Studies. 

Paul M. Angle: The Lincoln Reader. New Brunswick, Rutgers University 

Press, 1947. An anthology. 
Paul M. Angle: Lincoln, Day by Day, 1854-1861. Springfield, The Abraham 

Lincoln Association, 1933. 
William E. Barton: The Lineage of Lincoln. Indianapolis, Bobbs-Merrill Co., 

William E. Barton: The Paternity of Abraham Lincoln. N. Y., Doran, 1920. 
William E. Barton: The Women Lincoln Loved. Indianapolis, Bobbs-Merrill 

Co., 1929. 

F. B. Carpenter: Six Months at the White House with Abraham Lincoln. 

N. Y., Hurd & Houghton, 1867. 
Fred L. Holmes: Abraham Lincoln Traveled This Way. Boston, L. C. Page 

& Co., 1930. 
A. K. McClure: Lincoln's Yarns and Stories. Philadelphia, John C. Winston 

Co., 1901. 
Rexford Newcomb: In the Lincoln Country. Philadelphia, J. P. Lippincott 

Co., 1928. 
Harry E. Pratt: Lincoln, Day by Day, 1840-1846. Springfield, The Abraham 

Lincoln Association, 1939. 
Harry E. Pratt: Lincoln, Day by Day, 1809-1839. Springfield, The Abraham 

Lincoln Association, 1941. 
Allen Thorndike Rice: Reminiscences of Abraham Lincoln. New York, The 

North American Review, 1888. 
John T. Richards: Abraham Lincoln the Lawyer-Statesman. Boston, Hough- 
ton Mifflin Co., 1916. 
Carl Sandburg: Lincoln Collector. The Story of Oliver R. Barrett's Great 

Lincoln Collection. New York, Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1950. 
Joshua F. Speed: Reminiscences of Abraham Lincoln and Notes of a Visit to 

California. Louisville, John P. Morton Co., 1884. 
John W. Starr: Lincoln and the Railroads. New York, Dodd Mead and Co., 



Ida M. Tarbell: In the Footsteps of the Lincolns. New York, Harper and 

Bros., 1924. 
Benjamin P. Thomas: Lincoln, Day by Day, 1847-1853. Springfield, The 

Abraham Lincoln Association, 1933. 
Louis Austin Warren: Lincoln's Parentage and Childhood. New York, The 

Century Co., 1926. 
Henry C. Whitney: Life on the Circuit with Lincoln. Caldwell, Idaho, The 

Caxton Printers, 1940 (1892) . 
Rufus R. Wilson: Intimate Memories of Lincoln. Elmira, New York, The 

Primavera Press, 1945. 
Albert A. Woldman: Lawyer Lincoln. Boston, Houghton Mifflin Co., 1936. 

Books — Illinois and Local History 

Newton Bateman and Paul Selby: Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and 

History of Coles County. Chicago, Munsell Pub. Co., 1906 (Pp. 617-886, 

"History of Coles County by Charles Edward Wilson.") . 
Alexander Davidson and Bernard Stuve: A Complete History of Illinois from 

1673 to 1873. Springfield, Illinois Journal, 1874. 
John Drury: Old Illinois Houses. Springfield, Illinois State Historical Society, 

T. M. Eddy: The Patriotism of Illinois. Chicago, Clark and Co., 1865. 
D. W. Lusk: Eighty Years of Illinois Politics and Politicians, 1809-1889. 

Springfield, The Author, 1889 (third edition) . 
John Moses: Illinois Historical and Statistical. Chicago, Fergus Printing Co., 

1895. Two vols. 
John M. Palmer: The Bench and Bar of Illinois. Chicago, Lewis Pub. Co., 

1899. Vol. II. 
(No author stated) : Counties of Cumberland, Jasper and Richland, Illinois. 

Chicago, F. A. Battery and Co., 1884. 
(No author stated) : The History of Coles County. Chicago, William Le- 

Baron, Jr., and Co., 1879. 

Books — Miscellaneous 

Biographical Directory of the American Congress. Washington, Government 

Printing Office, 1950 (81st Congress, 2nd Session, House Document No. 

George B. Balch: Poems. Boston, Sherman, French and Co., 1912. 
Thomas F. Madigan: A Catalogue of Lincolniana. New York, n.d. 
Parke-Bernet Galleries: The Oliver R. Barrett Lincoln Collection. Public 

Auction Sale. New York, 1952. 
Theodore Calvin Pease: "The County Archives of Illinois." Collections of 

the Illinois State Historical Library. Springfield, 1915. Vol. XII. 


Abraham Lincoln Quarterly. Abraham Lincoln Association, Springfield. Vol. 
Ill, September 1944, pp. 146-149. Paul M. Angle: "Aftermath of the 
Matson Slave Case." 
The Arena. Jesse W. Weik: "Lincoln and the Matson Negroes." April 1897, 

p. 752-758. 
Bulletins of the Abraham Lincoln Association, Springfield. 

No. 11, June 1, 1928, pp. 1-8. S. M. Blunk: "The Lincoln Way." 

No. 24, September 1931, pp. 7-9. "Misdated Lincoln Letters and 

No. 40, September 1935, pp. 3-9. Benjamin P. Thomas: "The Eighth 

Judicial Circuit." 
No. 41, December 1935, pp. 3-8. Benjamin P. Thomas: "The Coles 

County Lincoln Cabin." 
No. 45, December 1936, pp. 3-9. Harry E. Pratt: "Administration of 
Estate of Abraham Lincoln." 

Sources of Information 251 

Century Magazine, September 1892, pp. 798-799. Alonzo Hilton Davis: "Lin- 
coln's Goose Nest Home." 
Illinois Bar Journal, September 1938. Robert L. Conn: "Historic Illinois 
Counties. Coles County." 

September 1943. Harry E. Pratt: "Lincoln's Supreme Court Cases." 
Illinois Law Review, January 1907, pp. 386-391. Duncan T. Mclntyre: "Lin- 
coln and the Matson Slave Case." 
Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society. 

Vol. VII (1914-1915), pp. 56-58. John M. Lansden: "Abraham Lincoln, 

Judge David Davis and Judge Edward Bates." 
Vol. XIV (1921-1922), pp. 107-121. Mrs. Joseph C. Dole: "Pioneer Days 

in Coles County, Illinois." 
Vol. XVII (1924) , pp. 234-240. "Unveiling the Thomas Lincoln Monu- 
Vol. XXXIII (1940) , pp. 7-56. Charles H. Coleman and Paul H. Spence: 

"The Charleston Riot." 
Vol. XLVII (1954) , pp. 20-34. Wayne C. Temple: "Lincoln's Fence Rails." 
Papers in Illinois History. Illinois State Historical Society. 1939, pp. 112-152. 
Edwin Davis Davis: "The Hanks Family in Macon County, Illinois." 

Pamphlets, Leaflets, Printed Addresses. 

William E. Barton: Lincoln and Douglas in Charleston. Address, Charleston 

September 18, 1922. Charleston Daily Courier Print, 1922. 
William E. Barton: The Parents of Abraham Lincoln. Address, Shiloh Ceme- 
tery, Coles County, September 18, 1922. Charleston Daily Courier Print, 

Clarence W. Bell: Lincoln Unwritten History. Address, Methodist Church, 

Mattoon, February 11, 1931. Privately printed. 
Joseph G. Cannon: / Knew Abraham Lincoln. Address, Danville, 1922. 

Printed in Danville, Illinois, 1922. 
William F. Cavins: The Lincoln Family, Neighbors of Our Fathers. Mattoon, 

Illinois, Lincoln Day Committee, 1934. 
M. L. Houser: Young Abraham Lincoln and Log College. Peoria, Illinois, 

Lester O. Schriver, 1942. 
Harry E. Pratt: Lincoln and Bankruptcy Law. Chicago, The Poor Richard 

Press, 1943. 
Alexander Summers: Mattoon, Origin and Growth. Mattoon, Illinois, Na- 
tional Bank of Mattoon, 1946. 
S. E. Thomas: Lincoln Douglas Debate. Charleston, Illinois, Eastern Illinois 

State College, Bulletin No. 86, October 1, 1924. 
Charles M. Thompson: The Investigation of the Lincoln Way. Springfield, 

Illinois State Historical Society, 1915. Report of the Board of Trustees. 
Freeport's Lincoln. The Lincoln-Douglas Society, Freeport, Illinois, 1929. 
The Lincoln Kinsman. The Lincoln National Life Foundation, Fort Wayne, 

Indiana. No. 6, December 1938; No. 31, January 1941. 
Lincoln Log Cabin State Park. Springfield, Illinois Department of Public 

Works and Buildings. Leaflet, n.d. 
Lincoln Lore. The Lincoln National Life Foundation, Fort Wayne, Indiana. 

No. 386, August 31, 1936; No. 480, June 20, 1938; No. 526, May 8, 1939; 

No. 964, September 29, 1947. 
Lincoln Pilgrimage. Charleston, July 11, 1932. Leaflet. 
Memoirs of Abraham Lincoln in Edgar County, Illinois. Paris, Illinois, Edgar 

County Historical Society, 1925. 
Route Traveled by the Thomas Lincoln Family in Coming from Indiana to 

Illinois in the Year 1830. Greenup, Illinois, The Abraham Lincoln Na- 
tional Memorial Highway Association, 1929. 


Official Records 
Coles County, Illinois. 

Office of the County Clerk. 

Death Register. 

Land Entry Book. 

Marriage Records. 

Probate Files. 
Office of the Circuit Clerk and Recorder. 

Deed Records. 

Circuit Court Records. 

Mortgage Records. 

Circuit Court Judges' Docket. 

Cost Bill Docket. 

Miscellaneous records in lower vault, particularly files of Justices' 
Court records. 
State of Illinois 

General Assembly, Laivs of 1831; Public Laws of 1865. 
Supreme Court Reports. 

Adjutant General Report, 1900-1902 (vols. 1-8, 1832-1865). 
State Archives. 

Executive Register, vol. V. 

Pardon Papers. 
United States. 

War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union 

and Confederate Armies. Washington, Government Printing Office, 

Series I, vol. iii (1881) ; Series II, vols, i (1894) and iv (1899) ; Series 

III, vol. i (1899) . 
Bureau of the Census. Census Reports, Coles County, Illinois, 1840, 1850. 

On microfilm in Illinois State Archives. 
The National Archives. Reference Service Reports prepared for the 


Manuscript Collections 

Chicago Illinois. 

Chicago Historical Society, Manuscript Division. 

University of Chicago. Harper Memorial Library. William E. Barton 
Papers and Lincoln Collection. 
Fort Wayne, Indiana. 

Lincoln National Life Foundation. Lincoln Collection. 
San Marino, California. 

Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery. Lincoln Collection (con- 
sulted by correspondence only) . 
Springfield, Illinois. 

The Abraham Lincoln Association. Lincoln Collection. Now in Illinois 

State Historical Library. 
Illinois State Historical Library. 

Herndon-Weik Manuscripts. Microfilm and Photostats from the 

Library of Congress. 
Jesse W. Weik Papers. 

Robert Todd Lincoln Collection. Microfilm from Library of Congress. 
Barrett Collection. "Kith and Kin" material, acquired February 1952. 
Lincoln Collection. 
Henry Horner Library. 
Washington, D. C. The Library of Congress, Division of Manuscripts. 
Henry Pelham Holmes Bromwell Papers. 
Herndon-Weik Manuscripts. 
Robert Todd Lincoln Collection. 
Miscellaneous Lincoln Manuscripts. 

Sources of Information 253 

Individual manuscripts made available to the writer. 

Clarence W. Bell: "Sawyer Family Traditions." Prepared for the writer 

October 25, 1949. 
Raymond Pitcairn: "Abraham Lincoln and the New Church." From 

Mr. Leslie Marshall, The Swedenborg Fellowship, Paterson, N. J. 

Scrapbooks in private hands. 

Mrs. Walton Alexander, Charleston, Illinois. 

Mrs. Esther C. Goodwin, Charleston, Illinois. 

Mrs. I. H. Johnston, Charleston, Illinois. 

Mr. George P. Rodgers, Pleasant Grove Township, Coles County, Illinois. 

Newspapers, individual issues (not in scrapbooks or collections) . 
Champaign, Illinois, News Gazette, May 26, 1939. 
Charleston, Illinois, Daily Courier, Daily News, scattered issues. 
Lerna, Illinois, Weekly Eagle, scattered issues. 
Mattoon, Illinois, Gazette, January 25, February 1, 1861. 
Neoga, Illinois, News, February 12, 1953. 
Paris, Illinois, Daily Beacon-News, February 12, 1941. 

Springfield, Illinois, Sangamo Journal, Illinois State Journal, microfilm 
file in Illinois State Historical Library. Scattered issues. 

Published Collections of Photographs. 

Stefan Lorant: Lincoln, His Life in Photographs. N. Y., Duell, Sloan & 
Pearce, 1941. 

Stefan Lorant: Lincoln, A Picture Story of His Life. N. Y., Harper & 
Bros., 1952. 

Frederick Hill Meserve and Carl Sandburg: The Photographs of Abra- 
ham Lincoln. N. Y., Harcourt, Brace & Co., 1944. 



Abolitionists, 105, 116-117, 168 

"Abraham Forty," purchased by John 
D. Johnston,' 26, 33, 42; sold to 
Thomas Lincoln, 26, 41; sold to 
Abraham Lincoln, 26, 43, 61-63, 65- 
66; bond by Lincoln to sell to 
Johnston, 26, 64; occupied by 
Thomas Lincoln and Johnston 
families, 33, 35, 39, 43; cabin on, 
33-37; did Abraham Lincoln help 
build cabin?, 35-37, 40-41; cabin 
moved, 39-41, 43; acquired by John 
J. Hall, 43-44, 65; part acquired by 
State of Illinois, 47-48; held by 
Lincoln for benefit of stepmother, 
64, 142-144; claimed by Thomas L. 
D. Johnston, 64-65; Dennis Hanks 
wrote to John J. Hall concerning, 

Abraham Lincoln Association, 43, 45, 
46, 47, 80 

Abraham Lincoln Log Cabin Associa- 
tion, 44-46, 48 

Alexander's Department Store, 
Charleston, 147 

Alexander, Miss Dora, 176, 184, 197 

Alexander, James, 63, 64, 88, 89 

Alexander, Mrs. Nancy Compton, 
175, 176, 197 

Alexander, Mrs. Walton, 18, 135, 200, 
222, 232 

Allison, Dr., 129 

Allison, Andrew Berry, 53, 63, 202 

Allison, Andrew H., 202, 204, 205 

Allison, Mrs. Andrew H., 53, 204 

Allison, Emma, 204 

Allison, Joseph, 63 

Allison, Mary Ann, 204 

Allison, Mrs. Rufus, 205 

Allison, Thomas, 204 

Allison, William D., 204 

Ambler, David C, 211 

American Party, 161, 164-165, 169, 

Angle, Paul M., 98, 108 
Army recruiting policy, 235 
Arnold, Isaac N., 182 
Ashmore, Gideon Mathew, 86, 104- 

Ashmore, Samuel Claiborn, 105 
Ashmun's Amendment, 182-183 
Atkinson, Mrs. Eleanor, 2, 7, 55, 154, 

Atlanta, battle of, 230 

Bacon, Mrs. Kate E., 137 

Bailey, Ozias, 100 

Baker, Edward D., 115-116, 221 

Baker, I. W., 132 

Baker, Mrs. Susan D., 29, 98, 99, 134, 

Balch, George, 32 

Balch, George B., saw Lincoln at the 
"Plummer Place" (?) , 32-33; birth, 
33; described Thomas Lincoln, 50; 
described Lincoln's 1861 visit to 
father's grave, 135; poem about 
Thomas Lincoln's grave, 138-139 

Balch, Theron E., 136-137, 138 

Ball, S. S., 110 

Baptist Church, 133 

Barham, Rev. Daniel, 13 

Barham, John, 13, 37 

Barham, Nathan, 13 

Barker, Mary, see Johnston, Mrs. 
Mary Barker 

Barker, Thomas, 30 

Barney, Mrs. M. M., 232 

Barrett, Oliver R., (Barrett Collec- 
tion) , Levi Hall children with 1830 
migrating party (?) , 4-5; Thomas 
Lincoln documents, 31, 38, 42; 




Reuben Moore Land Office receipt, 
39; whiskey sales to John D. John- 
ston, 59; description of John D. 
Johnston, 60; John D. Johnston 
letter, 145; letter from T. B. Shoaff, 
232; Dennis Hanks' watch, 233; sale 
of Collection, 233 

Barton, Prof. Byron K., 40 

Barton, William E., on erection of 
Thomas Lincoln cabin, 42-43; de- 
scribed Thomas Lincoln, 52-53; 
Lincoln family relationships, 60; 
comment about John D. Johnston, 
76; statement to, by Mrs. J. R. 
Bean, 132; spoke at dedication of 
Thomas Lincoln monument, 140 

Bates, Judge Edward, 121, 122, 192, 

Bean, Mrs. Joseph R., 132, 133 

Bell, Clarence W., 2, 22, 16, 17, 18, 
84, 115, 145 

Benton Barracks, Mo., 214, 220 

Beveridge, Albert Jeremiah, 2, 4, 58, 
67, 69, 108 

Binmore, Henry, 180 

Berry, John, 212 

Best, William ("Buck") , 204 

Bissell, Gov. William H., 160, 187 

Bidle, Fred, 204-205 

Bishop, William W., 159, 160 

"Black Laws" of Illinois, 109, 110, 181 

Black Hawk War, 24 

Blakeman's Ford, 10, 11, 17 

Bledsoe, A. T., 90 

Block, Willard F., 45 

Bloomington Pantagraph, 209 

Blunk, S. M., 16, 17 

Bogue, George M., 45 

Bond, Benjamin, 158, 159 

Bond, Hugh L., 230 

Border States Convention, 236 

Boston Advertiser, 46 

Bowling Green Band of Terre Haute, 

Boyle, John, 117-120 

Buchanan, Pres. James, 161 

Brandenburg, C. P., 126 

Brass and String Band of Charleston, 

Breese, Judge Sidney, 99 

Bresee, James M., 225 

Bromwell, Henry Pelham Holmes, 
law* partner of U. F. Linder, 100; 

wrote to President Johnson, 152; at 
Lincoln-Douglas debate, 174, 180, 
185; career, 185; wrote to Lincoln, 
187-188; invited Lincoln to speak, 
188-189; sought appointment from 
Lincoln, 220-221; elected to Con- 
gress, 221 

Brooks, Blueford E., 229 

Brown, J. J., 159 

Brown, Jacob I., 180 

Browne, Francis F., 52 

Browning, Orville H., 124, 160 

Bryant, Anthony, 104, 110; family, 
104, 108, 110 

Buck Grove home of Thomas Lin- 
coln, 20-22, 25, 28 

Bunnell Tavern (Union House) , 177 

Burford, C. C, 191, 192, 209 

Burlingame, L., 201 

Bush, Christopher, 15 

Bush, R. Y., 153-154 

Butterfield, Justin, 130, 159, 160 

Cairo, Illinois, military post, 217 

Cameron, Simon, 188, 216, 218 

Camp Butler, Springfield, 223 

Camp Yates, Springfield, 226 

Campaign of 1840, 38-39 

Campaign of 1844, 115-116 

Campaign of 1848, 157 

Campaign of 1856, 160-161 

Campaign of 1858, 162-171, 173-185, 

Campaign of 1860, 188, 189 

Campbell, village of, see Farmington, 
Coles County 

Cannon, "Uncle Joe," 146, 147, 148, 
193-194, 203 

Capital House (Johnson Tavern) , 
176, 184 

Carpenter, F. B., 62, 231 

Cash, William, 110 

Caton, Judge John D., 98 

Cavins, William F., 16, 17, 20, 29, 32, 
33, 174, 225 

Cedar Creek, battle of, 230 

Chambers, William M., Marshall pro- 
posed that Lincoln show him some 
attention, 164, letter to Lincoln, 
164-165; political position, 171; in- 
troduced Lincoln at debate, 180; 
invited Lincoln to speak, 188-189; 
called on Lincoln at Marshall 
home, 198; received permission to 



raise a regiment, 216-217; letter 
concerning Army medical service, 
Champaign News Gazette, 139, 191 
Chapman, Augustus H., Lincoln de- 
scribed 1830 migration route to, 9, 
14; conversation with Lincoln 
(1861), 9, 14, 58, 64, 77, 145, 199; 
reported visit of Lincoln to parents 
after Black Hawk War, 23-24; re- 
ported mill rental by Thomas Lin- 
coln, 31; described Thomas Lin- 
coln, 52; Lincoln spoke of affection 
for stepmother to, 58; told of land 
purchase by Thomas Lincoln, 62; 
married Harriet Hanks, 69; signed 
bond for Abraham Johnston, 71; 
wrote to Lincoln about father's ill- 
ness, 128-129, 131; with Lincoln on 
1861 trip to see stepmother and 
father's grave, 134, 136, 138, 199, 
200, 202, 204, 206; Lincoln advises 
stepmother to live in Chapman 
home, 143; appointment for Chap- 
man requested by wife, 150-151; 
Chapman an officer in army, 151, 
214; appointed Indian Agent by 
President Johnson, 152, 153; letters 
to Lincoln, 152-153, 169-172, 217; 
at Charleston debate, 180; Lincoln 
a guest of the Chapmans, 184, 185, 
186, 196, 197, 207, 208, 209, 210; 
gave account of Lincoln's 1861 visit, 
195, 198; considered for post office 
appointment, 211-212 
Chapman, Mrs. Harriet Hanks, 
moved to Illinois with Lincolns, 3, 
5, 9-10; described Mrs. Thomas 
Lincoln, 58; lived in Springfield 
with the Lincolns, 68, 69, 70, 77; 
married A. H. Chapman, 69, 213; 
described Lincoln as a lawyer, 81- 
82; wrote to Lincoln, 130, 150-151; 
asked appointment for husband, 
150-151; reported that Mrs. Thomas 
Lincoln was feeble, 155; birth and 
death of children, 172; photograph 
of Lincoln, 186; Mrs. Thomas Lin- 
coln lived with her, 201 
Chapman, Robert N., 203, 212 
Charleston, Illinois, on route of 
migrating Lincoln party (?) , 9, 11, 
14; origin, 11; named, 11; incor- 

porated, 11; Linder met Lincoln at, 
24-25, 29; hotels in, 25, 176, 177, 
184; Lincoln spoke at, 38, 39, 40, 
160, 161; Chamber of Commerce, 
47, 48; Lincoln practiced law in, 
66, 80-100, 102, 103, 112; home of 
Dennis Hanks, 68, 69; Circuit Court 
officers, 83-84; Matson slave case 
tried in, 104-109; fourth Lincoln- 
Douglas debate in, 173-187; Linder 
Building, 176; National Bank, 177; 
fair grounds, 179; home of T. A. 
Marshall, 185, 195-196; 1858 vote 
in, 187; Young Men's Literary As- 
sociation, 188; Lincoln's last visit, 
133, 191-192, 194-199, 206-208; 
Mount and Hill hall, 207; "Old 
Cemetery," 212; "Charleston Riot," 
226; war meeting at court house, 

Charleston Daily Courier, 55, 60, 137, 
179, 199, 222 

Charleston Daily News, 178, 184, 186, 
187, 207 

Charleston Debate, see Debate, Lin- 

Charleston Globe, 201 

Charleston Plaindealer, 46, 139, 153, 
156, 199 

Charleston Riot, 226 

Charleston Riot prisoners, 226-231 

Chicago Bar Association, 117, 123 

Chicago Journal, 160 

Chicago Daily News, 46 

Chicago Historical Society, 59 

Chicago Tribune, 45, 46, 47 

Chicago Press and Tribune, 174, 175, 
176, 180 

Chicago Times, 180 

Chicago World's Fair, 45, 232 

Christian Church, see Disciples of 

Civilian Conservation Corps, 48 

Clay, Henry, 113, 168 

Claybrook, Edwin C, 122 

Clayton, John M., 158 

Coffee, Col. John, 171 

Colby, J. A., 137 

Colored Baptist Association of Illi- 
nois, 110 

Compton, Albert, 84, 86 

Compton, Arthur, 169 

Connolly, James W., 195, 198 



Constable, Charles H., attorney in 
Matson slave case, 106, 107; law 
practice with Lincoln, 112; circuit 
judge, 146; sought political ap- 
pointment, 157, 158; attorney for 
Mrs. Matilda Moore, 201 

Constitution of Illinois (1818) , 107; 
(1848), 146 

Conzet, Lieut. Charles, 224, 225 

Conzet, Edward, 224 

Conzet, John, 224 

Cooper Union, New York City, 189 

"Copperheads," 121, 147, 224, 226, 

Corbin, Mary, 105 

Cottingham, W. E., 199 

Couch, Ida, 225 

Craddock, W. W., 163, 169, 171, 175, 
180, 187 

Craig, James W., 36, 44, 45 

Cunningham, James R., 145, 147, 201 

Cunningham, James Taylor, justice 
of the peace, 25; at Charleston de- 
bate, 174-175, 180; owner of horses 
used by Lincoln carriage, 175; saw 
Lincoln at Washington, 215, 216; 
on confidential assignments for the 
President, 217 

Cunningham, John, 60, 175, 180, 186 

Cunningham, Mary Jane, see Mon- 
roe, Mrs. James 

Cutts, J. Madison, 184 

Daughters of the American Revolu- 
tion, 49 

Davis, Alonzo H., 23 

Davis, Judge David, 82, 193, 227, 230 

Davis, Edwin David, 203 

Davis, John, 5-6 

Davis, Judge Oliver L., 110, 146, 148, 

Dean, Joseph, 107 

Decatur Herald and Review, 209 

Debate, Lincoln-Douglas, 173-187 

Democratic Party, O. B. Ficklin a 
Democrat, 113; U. S. Linder a 
Democrat, 114, 124, 160, 185; C. H. 
Constable a Democrat, 158; Coles 
County Democrats, 168; Democratic 
activities at Charleston debate, 174, 
176, 179, 180, 184; vote in 1856, 
161; vote in 1858, 187; vote in 1860, 

189; members of Congress, 159, 226, 

Diaconoff, Rev. Andre, 125-126 

Dice, Mrs. Harriet A., 213 

Disciples of Christ, 133, 156 

District Court, Federal, 83, 100 

Dole, Charles, 180 

Dole, Deck, 174, 180 

Dole, Joe, 180 

Dole, W. P., 221, 237 

Donahue, Dillard C, 184 

Donnell, Thomas, 139 

Douglas, Mrs. Adele Cutts, 176, 177, 

Douglas, Stephen Arnold, supported 
by U. F. Linder, 120, 168, 169; 
candidate in 1858, 162, 163, 164, 
165, 169, 171; spoke in Mattoon, 
167; debate with Lincoln at 
Charleston, 173-184; reelected to 
Senate, 187, 188, 198; reference to 
his visit to mother, 194 

Dowling, Dennis Hanks, 58 

Dowling, Mrs. Sarah Jane Hanks, 3, 
18, 31, 55, 70, 186, 213 

Dowling, Thomas S., 70, 177-178, 213 

Dred Scott decision, 167 

Dryden, David, 37, 39, 53, 63, 204, 205 

Dryden, Mrs. David, 205 

Dunbar, Alexander P., signed pardon 
petition, 92; law practice with Lin- 
coln, 86-89, 112; wrote to Lincoln, 
158, 159-160; at Lincoln-Douglas 
debate, 180; called on Lincoln at 
Marshall home, 197, 198 

Dunlap, Erskine S., 47, 48 

Dunlap, M. E., 45, 47 

Early, Jacob M., 24 

Early, Gen. Jubal, raid on Washing- 
ton, 227 

Eastern Illinois State College, 13, 40, 

Eastin, John M., 30 

Eastin, Margaret J., 148 

Eden, John R., 83, 226 

Eighth Judicial Circuit, 79, 80, 82, 
100, 105 

Eighteenth Senatorial District, 163 

Ellington, James D., 84 

Ellington, Mrs. Fanny M., 96 

Ellington, Nathan, 37-38, 84, 88, 92, 



Emancipation policy, 236-237 
Emancipation Proclamation, 236 
Emmerson, Charles, 83 
Engbring, Henry, 37 
Ewing, Thomas, 160 

Farmington, Coles County, mail 
route, 76, 77; visited by Lincoln, 
133, 196, 199, 200, 202-207, 210; 
home of Matilda Moore, 136, 146, 
148, 199, 200, 201, 203, 205, 207, 
204; school, 136, 203, 204; residents 
attended Charleston debate, 173; 
Mrs. Thomas Lincoln at home of 
daughter, 199, 200, 201 

Farmington, Tenn., battle of, 216 

Fell, Jesse W., 22 

Ferguson, Myron Jedediah, 217 

Ferguson, Dr. Oscar W., 20, 217 

Ficklin, Orlando Bell, law practice 
with Lincoln, 82, 86, 87, 89, 90, 91, 
93, 99, 102, 112; signed pardon peti- 
tion, 92; attorney in Matson slave 
case, 105-107, 109-110; Lincoln's 
opinion of, 112-113; career, 113; 
opinion of Lincoln, 113; attorney 
for Daniel Linder, 119; at Lincoln- 
Douglas debate, 176-177, 180. 182- 
184; sought release of Charleston 
rioters, 227-230 

Fifty-fourth Illinois Infantry, 211, 
216, 217, 226, 229 

Fillmore, ex-Pres. Millard, 161, 162, 
163, 164, 169 

First Illinois Cavalry, 168, 214, 219 

Fort Delaware, Del., 226, 227, 229, 

Fort Sumter, 234 

Fourth Judicial Circuit, 80, 100, 105 

Fowler, Joseph, 41-42 

Fox, Mrs. Sarah Louisa Hall, 137, 
138, 200, 203, 204, 205, 207 

Freeman, Caroline, 204 

Freeman, Dr. N. S., 200, 202, 203, 205 

Freeman, Mrs. N. S., 203, 205 

Freeport debate, 178 

Fremont, John Charles, 160, 161, 164, 

French, Gov. Augustus G., 92 

Furry (Fury) , Mrs. Jane Price, 132 

Furry (Fury) , Peter, 67 

General Land Office appointment, 
129, 130 

German, C. S., 170 

Getchell, E. F., 45 

Gill, James, 73, 89, 94 

Gillespie, Joseph, 112, 113, 124, 130 

Glassco, Emmett, 177, 178 

Glassco, Matt, 177 

Glenn, Joseph, 139 

Goodman, Rev. Thomas, 132, 133 

Goodwin, Mrs. Esther C, 137 

Goosenest Prairie home of Thomas 
Lincoln, origin of name, 12; travel- 
ing conditions, 13; land owned by 
Thomas Lincoln, 26; mortgaged by 
Thomas Lincoln, 26, 44; Thomas 
Lincoln moved to, 32, 33; home of 
Thomas Lincoln, 35-43; inherited 
by Abraham Lincoln, 44, 142; sold 
to John D. Johnston, 44, 66, 142; 
sold to John J. Hall, 44; acquired 
by the State of Illinois, 47, 48; 
Lincoln Log Cabin State Park, 48, 
49- Lincoln visited, 59, 66-68, 129, 
133, 134, 135, 136, 137; on Lincoln 
National Memorial Highway, 68; 
abolitionists in neighborhood, 105; 
death of Thomas Lincoln at, 128; 
residence of Mrs. Thomas Lincoln, 
133, 134, 143, 150, 151, 152, 153, 
154, 200; death of Mrs. Thomas 
Lincoln at, 156; cabin repaired, 200 

Gordon Cemetery, see Shiloh Ceme- 

Gordon, Mrs. John, 199 

Graham, A. A., 59, 135, 136 

Grant, Fred, 204 

Grant, Gen. Ulysses S., 45 

Great Western Railroad, 191, 192. 209 

Greene, William G., 56, 57 

Gridley, Mrs. Eleanor, erection of 
Thomas Lincoln cabin, 40, 41; 
Abraham Lincoln Log Cabin As- 
sociation, 45, 46; Thomas Lincoln 
cabin in Chicago, 46; on disappear- 
ance of Thomas Lincoln cabin, 47; 
gift to State of Illinois of cabin 
site, 47, 48; statement to, by Peter 
Furry, 67; statements to by John J. 
Hall, 68, 72, 84, 91, 156, 200; state- 
ment to, by Mrs. Thomas S. Dowl- 
ing, 70; statement to, by Abram 
Highland, 82, 83 



Grigsby, Charles, 1 

Gulliver, J. P., 68 

Gunther, Charles F., 232-233 

Hagar, A. D., 59, 135, 136 

Hahn, Gov. Michael, of La., 181 

Hall, Abraham Lincoln, 48 

Hall, Alfred, 151 

Hall, Amanda, 212 

Hall, Clarence T., 44, 60 

Hall, John Johnston, to Illinois with 
parents, 4; described erection of 
Thomas Lincoln cabin, 40, 41, 43; 
acquired "Abraham Forty," 44, 144, 
146; sold Lincoln cabin and site, 
44, 45; death, 47; copied family 
entries in Thomas Lincoln Bible, 
59; relationship to Lincoln, 60; 
described Lincoln's aid to father, 
63; correspondence with Thomas 
Johnston Concerning "Abraham 
Forty," 64, 65; described Lincoln's 
visits, 68, 91, 134, 135, 136, 137, 138, 
205; described Thomas Johnston, 
72; witness for Thomas Johnston, 
72; described suit over whiskey 
bottle, 84; Mrs. Thomas Lincoln 
resided with, 133, 143, 150, 151, 
153, 154, 155, 200, 201, 206; described 
Lincoln's visit to father's grave, 
134-135; assisted by Mrs. Thomas 
Lincoln, 145, 146; signed bond for 
mother, 148; paid fine for mother, 
148; letter from Dennis Hanks con- 
cerning Mrs. Thomas Lincoln, 149; 
letter to Lincoln concerning Mrs. 
Thomas Lincoln, 151-152; letters 
from R. Y. Bush, 153, 154; gave 
account of Mrs. Thomas Lincoln 
learning of assassination of Lincoln, 
155; comment on gifts to Mrs. 
Thomas Lincoln by Mrs. Abraham 
Lincoln, 156; repaired Lincoln 
cabin, 199, 200; present at dinner 
to Lincoln, 204 

Hall, Joseph A., 4, 5, 12, 15, 16, 84, 
85, 204 

Hall, Letitia, 4 

Hall, Levi, 4, 5 

Hall, Mahala, 4 

Hall, Mrs. Matilda Johnston, see 
Moore, Mrs. Matilda 

Hall, Nancy A., 60 

Hall, Mrs. Nancy Hanks 2, 3, 4, 5, 60 

Hall, Squire, member of migrating 
party to Illinois, 3, 4, 12, 15; hus- 
band of Matilda Johnston, 3, 4, 42; 
guardian of brother and sisters, 4, 
5; in Macon County, 19; witness in 
suit, 25; arrested and convicted for 
assault, 29, 30; defendant in mill 
suit, 30, 31, 33, 54; listed in 1840 
census, 57; half brother of Dennis 
Hanks, 60; death, 143, 146, 201 

Hall, Squire II, 47 

Haller, Mrs. Fannie, 223 

Hanks, Amanda, see Poorman, Mrs. 
Amanda Hanks 

Hanks, Charles, 212 

Hanks, Dennis, moved with Lincolns 
to Illinois, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 12, 13, 18; 
marriage, 2, 60; in Macon County, 
19; refers to Lincoln's 1831 visit to 
father, 21; rail splitting, 29; de- 
fendant in law suit, 30, 31, 33, 54; 
mill operation, 31; described 
Thomas Lincoln, 52; jury service, 
56, 85; described John D. Johnston, 
59; described Lincoln's aid to 
parents, 61, 62; sent copy of Lin- 
coln's bond to Herndon, 65; home 
in Charleston, 68-69; daughter 
aided by Lincoln, 68-70; Lincoln 
visited home of, 80-81, 184, 186, 
197, 199; signed pardon petition, 
92; plaintiff in law suit, 96-97; de- 
scribed Thomas Lincoln's relation- 
ship with son, 131; reported pres- 
ence with Lincoln on visit to 
Thomas Lincoln's grave, 136, 137, 
138; care of Mrs. Thomas Lincoln, 
148, 149, 151; correspondence with 
Lincoln, 149, 212, 226; visit to 
Lincoln at Washington, 149, 212, 
213, 227, 230, 232; brought news of 
Lincoln's assassination to Mrs. 
Thomas Lincoln, 154; wife sought 
Charleston postmastership for him, 
212; described appointment request 
by John Hanks, 214; described 
Charleston riot, 226; effort to 
secure release of Charleston rioters, 
227, 230, 231; given watch by 
Lincoln, 231, 232; death, 232 

Hanks, Mrs. Elizabeth, marriage to 
Dennis Hanks, 2; moved to Illinois 



with Lincolns, 2, 3, 4, 58; Lincoln's 
stepsister, 4, 77; mother of John 
Talbot Hanks, 77; visited by Mrs. 
Thomas Lincoln, 149, 201; in poor 
health, 149; death, 149-150; visited 
by Lincoln, 186, 197; sought ap- 
pointment for husband, 212 

Hanks, Harriet, see Chapman, Mrs. 
Harriet Hanks 

Hanks, John, proposed Lincoln 
family move to Illinois, 1, 2, 3; a 
member of the migrating party (?), 
4, 18; to New Orleans with Lincoln 
(?), 19, 21; with Lincoln to Coles 
County in 1861 (?) , 137, 138, 194, 
202, 203, 210; suggested "rail split- 
ter" slogan, 178; invited by Lincoln 
to make trip to Coles County with 
him, 194; appointment as Indian 
agent proposed, 213-214 

Hanks, John Talbot, 3, 77, 212 

Hanks, Joseph, 60 

Hanks, Lucy, 60 

Hanks, Mary L., see Shriver, Mrs. 
Mary Hanks 

Hanks, Nancy, daughter of Dennis 
Hanks, see Shoaff, Mrs. Nancy 

Hanks, Nancy, daughter of Joseph 
Hanks, see Hall, Mrs. Nancy Hanks 

Hanks, Nancy, daughter of Lucy 
Hanks, see Lincoln, Mrs. Nancy 

Hanks, Sarah Jane, see Dowling, Mrs. 
Sarah Jane Hanks 

Hanks, Theophilus, 212 

Hannah, Harry I., 140 

Hanson, George M., 16, 17, 25, 221, 

Harding, W. P., 189, 194 

Harlan, Burns, 125 

Harlan, Jacob, 125 

Harlan, James, 152 

Harlan, Judge Justin, 25, 83, 100, 125, 
158, 222 

Harper's Ferry, 234 

Harris, Maj. Thomas, 159 

Harrison, Pres. William Henry, 117 

Harvey, Robert, 167 

Hay, John, 50, 76 

Hay, Milton, 102 

Hendrickson, Mrs. Floret Harlan, 
125, 126 

Henry, Anson G., 130, 159 

Herndon, William Henry, letters to, 
from Dennis Hanks, 2, 65; Lincoln's 
law partner, 6, 98, 110; Lincoln 
described 1830 trip to, 6; described 
Lincoln-Needham wrestling bout, 
23; statement to, by A. H. Chap- 
man, 24, 31; statement to, by Mrs. 
Thomas Lincoln, 50, 56, 58, 59; 
letters to, by A. H. Chapman, 58, 
59, 136, 195; statement to, by 
Dennis Hanks, 61-62, 131; attitude 
towards Mrs. Lincoln, 69; state- 
ment by, concerning Mrs. Lincoln 
and Harriet Hanks, 69; letter to, 
by Mrs. A. H. Chapman, 70; hog 
thief case, 94-95; account of Lin- 
coln's last visit to Coles County, 
99, 195; aided Bryant family, 110; 
letter to, by O. B. Ficklin, 113; 
statement to, by John Hanks, 137, 
194; assisted A. H. Chapman, 152 

Hertz, Emanuel, 88-89 

Higgenbotham, James, 60 

Highland, Abram, 82 

Hitt, Robert R., 180 

Hodge, Mrs. Opal Sargent, 126 

Hoffman, Lt. Gov. Francis A., 187 

Holland, J. G., 98-99, 110, 116 

Holmes, Fred L., 178 

Horner, Henry (Horner Library) , 
48, 67, 81 

Hosmer, Maj. Addison A., 229 

Hubbs, Ray, 48 

Hufman, Michael, 59 

Huntington Library, 44, 73, 109 

Hutchason, Lewis R., 84, 105, 108 

He, Capt. Elijah, 24 

Illinois Bar Journal, 86, 87 

Illinois Central Railroad, 99, 102, 161, 

191, 193, 209 
Illinois College, 192 
Illinois Journal (Springfield) , 97, 

166, 179, 184, 185, 189, 192, 195, 

206, 207, 210 
Illinois State Archives, 92, 95 
Illinois State Bank, 114 
Illinois State Chronicle (Decatur) , 

Illinois State Historical Library, 39, 

58, 59, 67, 85, 88, 92, 96, 97, 100, 191 



Illinois State Historical Society, 37, 

140, 193 
Illinois State Register (Springfield) , 

179, 192 
'Irish Brigade," 219 

Jeffers, Mrs. Avanella, 119 

Jeffries, John R., 84, 159 

Jeffries, Thomas, 74, 85 

Johnston, Abraham Lincoln Barker, 
29, 57, 70, 71 

Johnston, Daniel, 3 

Johnston, Dennis Hanks, 29, 58, 64 

Johnston, Elizabeth, see Hanks, Mrs. 

Johnston, I. H., 199, 208 

Johnston, Mrs. I. H., 199, 208 

Johnston, John Davis, moved to Illi- 
nois with Lincolns, 4; trip to New 
Orleans, 19, 21; lived with Thomas 
Lincoln, 20, 22, 35, 39, 43; in Black 
Hawk War with Lincoln, 24; suit 
against G. M. Hanson, 25; land 
purchases and sales, 26, 28, 33, 41, 
42, 43, 44, 61; erected cabins, 29, 
34, 35, 39, 40; married Mary Barker, 
29; children, 29; married Nancy 
Jane Williams, 29; court witness, 
29, 85; arrested, tried and ac- 
quitted, 29, 30; defendant in law 
suits, 30, 31, 37, 38, 62, 63, 74; 
characteristics, 54, 59, 60; relations 
with Thomas Lincoln, 54; jury 
service, 55, 56; listed in census, 57, 
58; whiskey purchases, 59; relations 
with Lincoln, 59, 77, 199; constable, 
60; correspondence with Lincoln, 
64, 73-77, 128, 130-131, 142-144; 
Lincoln's bond to Johnston, 65; 
proposed his son live with Lin- 
colns, 70-71; signed receipt for 
Thomas Lincoln, 89; signed pardon 
petition, 92; sold note on Matson, 
109; proposed to sell " Abraham 
Forty," 142, 143, 144; moved to 
Arkansas, 144, 145; return to Coles 
County and death, 145 

Johnston, John Davis, Jr., 29 

Johnston, Marietta, 29, 57 

Johnston, Mrs. Mary Barker, 29, 39, 
41, 58, 97 

Johnston, Matilda, see Moore, Mrs. 
Matilda Johnston 

Johnston, Mrs. Nancy Jane, 29, 97, 

Johnston, Richard M., 29, 57, 64 

Johnston, Mrs. Sarah Bush, see Lin- 
coln, Mrs. Sarah Bush 

Johnston, Squire Hall, 29, 57, 64 

Johnston, Thomas Lincoln Davis, 29, 
57, 64, 71, 72, 77, 100, 149, 212 

Jones, J. P., 25 

Jones, Noel M., 30, 54 

Josties, Mrs. Sue, 140 

Kelly, James Y., 94 
"Kentucky Brigade," 216-217 
Kimball, Gen. Nathan, 216 
King, John C, 230 
Kitchell, Edward, 83 
Kitchell, Alfred, 83 
Kiwanis Club, 141 
"Know-Nothings," see American 

Kugler, Arnold R., 48 
Kyle, Otto R., 209 

Lake, Robert, 30 

Lamon, Ward Hill, 1, 59, 62, 69, 72 

Langston, William, 16 

Langston's Relay House, 17 

Lansden, John M., 192-193 

Law practice, Lincoln in Coles Coun- 
ty, People vs. Abraham Johnston, 
71; People vs. Thomas Johnston, 
72, 73, 100; Hall vs. Odell, 84-85; 
Vest vs. Williams et. al., 85; Moore 
vs. White, 85, 97; Aertson vs. Ash- 
more and Ashmore, 86; Ewing vs. 
Goodman, 86; Duncan vs. Comp- 
ton, 86; Bankruptcy cases, 86-87; A. 
Patterson vs. Winkler, 87; J. Pat- 
terson vs. Winkler, 87; Pearson and 
Anderson vs. Monroe and Easton, 
87; Morris vs. Jones et. al., 87; 
Turney vs. Craig, 87, 88; Rodgers 
vs. Stewart, 88, 98; Bagley vs. Van 
Meter, 88; Alexander vs. Affleck, 
88, 89; McKibben vs. Hart, 89; 
Ryan vs. Anderson, 89, 90; Frost 
vs. Gillinwater, 90; Eccles vs. True 
et. al., 91; People vs. Lester, 91-92; 
Anderson vs. Monroe, 93; Strader 
vs. Harris, 93; Linder vs. Fleenor, 
93; Matson vs. Rutherford, 94, 104- 
110; Watson vs. Gill, 94; People 



vs. Davis, 95; Hanks vs. White, 96- 
97; Marshall vs. Laughlin, 97, 98; 
Morrison and Crabtree vs. Illinois 
Central Railroad, 99, 100; Morri- 
son vs. Illinois Central Railroad, 
99, 100; Shephard vs. Walker, 100; 
Kile and Nichols vs. Crabtree, 101 

Law suits involving Thomas Lincoln, 
Jones and Norton vs. Lincoln et. 
al., 30, 31, 54; Hazlett and Miller 
vs. Lincoln, 37, 38; Sears vs. Lin- 
coln and Johnston, 38; Miller and 
Miller vs. Johnston and Lincoln, 
38; in general, 54; Mount and 
Alexander vs. Lincoln and John- 
ston, 62, 63; Montgomery vs. Lin- 
coln and Ashmore, 74; Lincoln vs. 
Hodges, 94 

LeBaron, William, Jr. (History of 
Coles County) , 66, 131, 135, 164 

LeCompton Constitution, 163 

Lee, Thomas Jefferson (Lee's Acade- 
my) , 139 

Lee, Gen. Robert Edward, 45 

Legislature, Lincoln in the, 24-25, 

Lerna Weekly Eagle, 98, 134, 139, 
156, 174, 201, 202, 203, 204, 205, 
206, 212, 231 

Lester, Sigler H., 91-93 

Lexington, Mo., battle of, 219, 236 

Libby Prison War Museum, 46-47, 

Liberia, 110 

Library of Congress, 85, 95, 100 

Lincoln, Abraham, moved to Illinois, 
1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10, 11, 15; New 
Orleans trip (1831), 19, 21; visits 
Buck Grove (1831) , 21, 22, 23, 24, 
25; wrestles Daniel Needham, 22- 
23; in Illinois legislature, 24, 114, 
115; visits Muddy Point (1835), 
25, 29; did not visit "Plummer 
Place," 32, 33; did he defend father 
in 1840 law suit (?) , 38; Visits 
Charleston (1840) , 38, 39; did he 
help in building of cabin for 
father (?) , 40, 41; helps family in 
Coles County, 50; relations with 
father, 56, 61, 62, 63, 66, 73, 74, 
131; relations with stepbrother, 59, 
64, 65, 66, 70, 71, 74-77, 128, 130, 
142-143, 144; relations with step- 

mother, 62, 66, 67, 78, 133, 143, 206, 

207, 208; visits to Goosenest Prairie, 
67, 68; helps Thomas Johnston, 71- 
72; member of Congress, 73, 157, 
159; correspondence with John T. 
Hanks, 77; legal practice in Coles 
County, 80-103; relations ^with 
Dennis Hanks, 80, 81, 96, 97,* 148, 
149, 186, 197, 199, 212, 213, 226, 
227, 230, 231, 232; involved in 
Matson slave case, 104-111; rela- 
tions with O. B. Ficklin, 112, 113, 
227-229; relations with U. F. Lin- 
der, 112-124, 159, 160; interest in 
Swedenborgian doctrines, 125, 126, 
127; visit to ailing father (1849) , 
128, 129, 131, 132, 238; Land Office 
appointment, 129-130; father's last 
illness, 130, 131, 132; visit to 
father's grave, 134-138, 203; protects 
interests of stepmother, 142-154; 
relations with Harriet Hanks Chap- 
man, 68, 69, 149, 150, 151; rela- 
tions with John J. Hall, 151-152, 
200; relations with Augustus H. 
Chapman, 9, 128, 129, 152, 153, 169- 
172, 185, 186, 196, 197, 199, 207, 

208, 214; conversation with Joshua 
F. Speed, 154; assassination, 154- 
155; political appointments, 122, 
123, 157, 158, 159, 211-214, 217-222; 
political campaigning, 115, 160, 
161; candidate for U. S. Senate, 
160, 162-168; correspondence with 
T. A. Marshall, 162-167, 185-186, 
228-229, 234-236; relations with T. 
A. Marshall, 168, 193-198, 214, 217- 
220, 228-229; correspondence with 
W. M. Chambers, 164-165, 188-189, 
198, 216-217, 237; Charleston debate 
with Douglas, 173-186; origin of 
rail-splitter campaign label, 177, 
178; relations with H. P. H. Brom- 
well, 187, 188, 220, 221; last visit 
to Coles County, 191-210; military 
appointments, 214-217, 219; re- 
leased Charles Conzet, 223, 224; re- 
leased Charleston riot prisoners, 

Lincoln, Edward Baker, 69, 70, 76, 77 

Lincoln, Mrs. Mary Todd, married 

Abraham Lincoln, 57, 65; never 

visited home of father-in-law, 57; 



Harriet Hanks in Lincoln home, 
69; relations with Harriet Hanks, 
69, 70; objection to Abraham John- 
ston, 70, 71; gift to Mr. and Mrs. U. 
F. Under, 120; illness, 130, 131; 
marker for Thomas Lincoln's grave, 
136, 138; signed deed, 142; wrote to 
Mrs. Thomas Lincoln, 138, 155-156; 
death, 155; gift to Mrs. Thomas 
Lincoln, 155-156; visit by Thomas 
A. Marshall to Lincoln home, 168; 
referred to, by Dennis Hanks, 231 

Lincoln, Mordecai, 199 

Lincoln, Mrs. Nancy Hanks, 1, 2, 3 

Lincoln, Robert Todd, birth, 69; 
marker for grandfather's grave, 
136, 139; mentioned in letter by 
mother, 155 

Lincoln, Mrs. Sarah Bush, moved 
from Indiana to Illinois, 2, 3, 7; 
relatives in Coles County, 2-3, 11, 
15, 16; sale of her Elizabethtown 
lot, 7; resided at Buck Grove, 20; 
resided at Muddy Point, 31; signed 
deeds by mark, 37, 39; resided at 
Goosenest Prairie, 39; described 
husband's interest in Abraham's 
education, 56; listed in Coles Coun- 
ty census, 57; character and appear- 
ance, 58, 78; relations with Abra- 
ham, 58, 59, 77, 78, 154; use of 40 
acres sold to Abraham reserved to 
her and husband, 61, 62; Abraham 
reported to have planned land 
gift to her, 62; assistance from 
Abraham, 66, 67, 145, 149; illit- 
eracy, 132, 145; visited by Abraham 
after Thomas Lincoln's death, 133; 
resided with relatives, 133, 134, 143, 
145, 153, 201; letter from Mary 
Todd Lincoln, 138, 155-156; no 
marker on grave, 140; marker 
erected, 140, 141; death and burial, 
141, 156; dower right to 80 acre 
farm, 142; Abraham refused to sell 
40 acres held for her benefit, 142, 
143, 144; message from Abraham, 
143; receipt from her to John J. 
Hall, 145; allegedly charged with 
theft, 146, 147, 148; controversy be- 
tween relatives over her care, 148- 
152; visit by R. Y. Bush, nephew, 
153; learned of Abraham's assassi- 

nation, 154-155; seen by Abraham 
at time of debate with Douglas, 
175; last visit by Abraham, 191, 
192, 194, 199-209, 238 

Lincoln, Thomas, moved from In- 
diana to Illinois, 1-7; crossed Coles 
County with migrating party, 9-18; 
in Macon County, 18, 19; settled 
at Buck Grove in Coles County, 19- 
22; land ownership in Coles Coun- 
ty (table) , 25, 26; moved to Muddy 
Point, 28, 29, 31; defendant in mill 
lease suit, 30, 31; literacy, 30, 53; 
moved to "Plummer Place," 31, 32, 
33, 34; moved to Goosenest Prairie, 
35, 39; sold "Plummer Place," 37; 
defendant in debt suits, 37-38, 63, 
85; defendant in note suits, 38, 74; 
exchanged land with R. Moore, 39, 
40; erected cabin, 39, 40, 42, 43; 
purchased land from stepson, 41; 
character and appearance, 50, 52- 
55; his religion, 52, 133; occupa- 
tion, 53, 54; relations with stepson, 
54, 63, 64; real estate transactions, 
55; attitude towards son's interest 
in education, 56, 57; in census re- 
turns, 57; sold 40 acres to son, 61, 
62, 65; mortgaged land, 63; re- 
ceived financial aid from son, 66, 
89, 109; wrote to son for assistance, 
73-74; suit brought for him by son, 
94; illness and death, 128-132; 
burial, 133; grave marker, 134-141 

Lincoln, Thomas ("Tad") , 155 

Lincoln, William Wallace, 71, 131 

Lincoln-Douglas debate, see Debate, 

Lincoln-Douglas Society of Freeport, 

Lincoln farm, Macon County, 10, 43 

Lincoln Log Cabin State Park, 32, 
48, 60 

Lincoln National Life Foundation, 
17, 45, 46, 47 

Lincoln National Memorial Highway, 
14, 15, 49, 141 

Lincoln's relatives living in Charles- 
ton, Dennis Hanks family, 69, 80, 
81, 96, 184, 186, 197, 199; A. H. 
Chapman family, 184, 185, 186, 196, 
197, 207, 208 

Linder, Daniel, 117-120, 121-122 



Linder, Elisha, 22, 115, 180 

Linder, Rose, see Wilkinson, Mrs. 
Rose Linder 

Linder, Usher Ferguson, met Lincoln, 
24, 25, 29, 37; anecdotes concerning, 
82, 115; law practice with Lincoln, 
82, 87-91, 93, 94, 96, 98, 100, 102, 
105, 106, 107, 110, 112; signed call 
for railroad meeting, 97; attorney 
in Matson slave case, 105-107, 110; 
Lincoln's opinion of, 112, 113; 
political career, 113-116, 123, 124, 
163, 169, 187; opinion of Lincoln, 
114, 123; in legislature with Lin- 
coln, 114, 115; protected by Lin- 
coln, 115, 116; correspondence with 
Lincoln, 116-117, 122-123; son 
Daniel's criminal prosecution, 117- 
120; admirer of Douglas, 120, 169; 
"For God's Sake Linder," 120, 169; 
assaulted lawyer Starkweather, 120; 
gifts from Lincolns, 120; Lincoln 
released Daniel Linder, 121, 122; 
asked Lincoln for appointment, 
122-123, 222; gave Lincoln me- 
morial address, 123; wrote remi- 
niscences, 124; comments on Justin 
Butterfield, 160; Lincoln warned 
about, 159-160; candidate in 1858, 
163, 169, 187; at Charleston debate, 
180, 184, 185; attorney for Mrs. 
Matilda Moore, 201 

Linn, William, 20 

Lions Club, 140 

Lockwood, Judge Samuel D., 90 

Logan, Stephen T., 86 

Lorant, Stefan, 58 

Lothan, Henry W., 95 

Louisville Democrat, 179 

Lovins, Rev. Aaron, 156 

Lowden, Gov. Frank O., 140 

Mack, A. W., 218 

Manassas, second battle of, 236 

Marshall, Eliza, see True, Mrs. James 

Marshall, Col. James M., 196, 218, 

Marshall, John H., 162, 168, 196 
Marshall, Mrs. John H., 168, 195 
Marshall, Josiah, 13 
Marshall, Leslie, 126 
Marshall, Thomas A., law practice 

with Lincoln, 90, 91, 93, 94, 112; 
signed Pardon petition, 92; at- 
torney in Matson slave case, 94, 
106; Lincoln's client in Marshall 
vs. Laughlin, 97, 98; political cor- 
respondence with Lincoln, 160-166, 
168, 211, 218, 220, 228-229, 234-237; 
relations with Lincoln, 168; career, 
168-169; candidate in 1858, 171, 
187; at Charleston debate, 174, 180, 
185; Lincoln his guest, 185, 195, 
196, 197, 198, 199; in campaign of 
1860, 189; accompanied Lincoln on 
1861 trip to Coles County, 192-195, 
203, 206, 208, 209, 210; colonel in 
army, 168, 214, 219; army contract 
project, 218; cadetship for son, 218, 
219; requested appointment, 217- 
219; captured at battle of Lexing- 
ton, Mo., 219; plantation in Missis- 
sippi, 220; Lincoln wrote letter in 
his behalf, 220; Charleston rioters, 
228, 229, 230 

Marshall, Thomas L., 220 

Marston, Gen. Gilman, 121, 122 

Mason, George E., 18, 134, 200, 222 

Matson Slave Case, see Matson, 

Matson, Robert, 73, 89, 94, 104-110, 

Matteson, Gov. Joel A., 95 

Mattoon, Illinois, on Lincoln Na- 
tional Memorial Highway, 10, 13, 
14; Essex House, 161, 174, 191, 194; 
Lincoln spoke at (1858) , 166, 167, 
168; Pennsylvania House, 174; Lin- 
coln arrived at, before debate, 174; 
political parades from Mattoon to 
Charleston, 174-175; Mattoon 
Gazette, 189; Lincoln came through 
on last trip to county, 191, 193, 194, 
195, 208, 209; True, Monroe and 
Cunningham families, 214-216 

Mattoon Gazette, 121, 139, 166, 189, 
191, 194, 208 

McClellan, Gen. George B., 218, 234 

McCrory, Mrs. Frank, 139 

Mclntyre (editor) , 189 

Mclntyre, Robert, 231 

McLain, M. C, 101, 169 

Mearns, David C, 77, 128, 129 

Merrick, Richard T., 184 

Meserve, Frederick Hill, 51, 169 



Mexican War, 116, 130, 159, 166, 182, 

Miles, John A., 211 

Military policy, 234-237 

"Milk Sick," 1, 3 

Miller, James M., 37, 38, 73, 109 

Miller, Rev. Jasper, 174, 204 

Miller, Stephen, 37, 38 

Mills, John, 30 

Mitchell, C. B., 63 

Miner, Mrs. B. D., 204 

Miner, Miss Lib, 206 

Mitchell, Col. Greenville M., 214, 229 

Modrell, Robert, 11 

Moffett, William, 30, 31, 54 

Monroe, Adolphus F., 84 

Monroe, Byrd, 73, 87, 93, 109, 159, 

Monroe, Capt. Byrd, Jr., 216 

Monroe, Lieut. George, 216 

Monroe, Col. James, 215-216 

Monroe, Mrs. James, 215 

Monroe, John,' 169, 171 

Montgomery, Alexander, 31 

Montgomery, Lucinda, 74 

Moore, Albert, 60 

Moore, Giles, 201 

Moore House, 15, 137, 199-207 

Moore, Lewis E., 13 

Moore, L. B., 189 

Moore, Mrs. Mary, 39, 201 

Moore, Mrs. Matilda, member of 
migrating party to Illinois, 3; 
Lincoln's stepsister, 4, 77; had loom 
in Thomas Lincoln's cabin (?) , 42; 
illiterate, 58; married Squire Hall, 
3, 60; home visited by Lincoln in 
1861, 137, 199-207; death of hus- 
band, 146, 201; marriage to Reuben 
Moore, 146, 201; Mrs. Thomas 
Lincoln lived with her, 146, 199, 

200, 201; indicted and convicted 
for larceny, 147-148; People vs. 
Matilda Moore, 148; mother of 
John J. Hall, 151; suit against 
estate of Reuben Moore, 201-202 

Moore, Reuben, land exchange with 
Thomas Lincoln, 26, 29, 39^ 40, 41, 
61; married Mrs. Matilda Hall, 146, 

201, 202; death, 151, 201; property 
settlement with second wife, 201, 
202; suit brought by widow, 201, 
202; children of, 201 

Morrison, James L. D., 113 

Morton, Charles S., 12, 28, 37 
Morton and Clement's store, 147 
Mount and Hill hall, 207-208 
Mount, J. R., 63, 64 
Muddy Point home of Thomas Lin- 
coln, 28-34 
Mulligan, Col. James, 219 
Munsell, L., 169 

Nabb, Charles W., 158 

Needham, Daniel P., 22-23, 30, 37 

Negro equality, Lincoln's position on, 

165, 167, 180-181 
Neoga News, 140 
New Church Messenger, 126 
New Church Society, see Swedenbor- 

gian Church 
Newman, Mrs. Caroline, 200, 201, 

203, 206 
New York Independent, 68 
Newcomb, Rexford, 31 
Nicolay, John G., 50, 76 
Norton, Benjamin F., 30, 54 

Oakes, Col. James, 228 

Offut, Denton, 19, 21, 56 

Oglesby, Gov. Richard J., wrote on 
behalf of A. H. Chapman, 152; 
candidate for Congress, 171, 175, 
184; "rail splitter" incident, 178; 
at Charleston debate, 180, 181, 182, 
184, 185; wrote on behalf of John 
Hanks, 213-214 

One hundred and twenty-third Illi- 
nois Infantry, 205, 224 

One hundred and forty-third Illinois 
Infantry, 223 

Ordinance of 1787, 107 

Osborne, R. H., 203, 204, 205 

Osborne, Mrs. Ralph, 206 

Osborne, R. L., 204 

Owings, Mrs. S. M., 139 

Palmer, John M., 114, 123 

Paris Daily Beacon News, 95, 232 

Parker, Allen, 126 

Parker, Benjamin, 14 

Parker, John W., 11, 14 

Parker, Thomas, 13 

Patronage, federal, in Coles County, 

157, 159 
Patterson, F., 63 



Payne, John Barton, 45 

Pease, Theodore Calvin, 92 

Peoria Transcript, 179 

Pennsylvania House (Mattoon) , 174 

Pettit, Judge John, 193 

Pettit, William B., 45 

Phipps, Emma W., 48 

Phipps, William T., 41, 43, 48, 60 

Pleasant Grove Township, 13, 14, 16, 
20, 25, 28, 32, 41, 43, 60, 66, 98, 134, 

"Plummer Place," home of Thomas 
Lincoln, 28, 32, 33, 34, 37, 61 

Polk, Pres. James K., 115, 116 

Pollard, Dr. C. E., 139 

Poorman, Allison C, 71, 212, 213 

Poorman, Mrs. Amanda, 67, 80, 81, 
186, 213 

Pope, Gen. John, 236 

Prairie Beacon (Paris, 111.), 118, 119 

Pratt, Harry E., Lincoln in the legis- 
lature, 24; Lincoln in Springfield, 
39; Lincoln's bankruptcy cases, 86- 
87; indictment of W. D. Davis, 95 

Preston, William B., 157 

Price, Gen. Sterling, 219 

Purcell, Miss Dovie, 206 

Radley, Hannah, 2, 16 

Radley, Ichabod, 11, 13, 17, 18, 20 

Radley, Isaac, 18 

Radley, John, 18 

Radley, Samuel, 25 

"Rail Splitter" slogan, 177-178 

Railroad schedules (1861), 191, 192, 
208, 209 

Randall, Ruth P., 69, 70 

Rardin, George Washington, 227, 229 

Rardin, James K., 175, 186 

Redmon, John F., 227 

Republican Party, rise of the party, 
124; Lincoln an elector in 1856, 
160, 161; vote in 1856, 161; cam- 
paign of 1858, 162-165, 167; T. A. 
Marshall a Republican, 163, 168, 
229; T. A. Marshall a candidate, 
163, 164, 187; Coles County Re- 
publicans, 161, 169, 171; Republi- 
can activities at Charleston debate, 
174-177, 184-185; vote in 1858, 187; 
campaign of 1860 in Coles County, 
189; vote in 1860, 189; State con- 

vention, 194; H. P. H. Bromwell a 
Republican, 220 

Rice, A. T., 56 

Riley, Edgar, 28 

Rives, G. W., 162 

Robinson, James C, 171, 187, 228 

Robinson, Richard, 228 

Rodgers, George P., 16, 22, 134, 139, 
202, 204 

Rodgers, George T., 204 

Rodgers, Isaac W., suit over owner- 
ship of colt, 98, 99, 207; deeded 
land for Shiloh Cemetery, 132; 
went with Lincoln to father's grave, 
134, 136, 138; at Moore house with 
wife when Lincoln was there, 204, 

Rodgers, John W., 88, 98 

Ross, M. B., 38 

Rothschild, Alonzo, 118 

Rutherford, C. W., 105 

Rutherford, Hiram, 94, 104, 105, 106, 
107, 109, 110 

Rutherford, Hiram John, 110 

Ryan, Edward A. H., 48 

Sandburg, Carl, 145, 149, 154 

Sawyer, John, to Illinois from Ken- 
tucky, 2; married Hannah Radley, 
2; Coles County settler, 16; visited 
by Lincoln party in 1830, 17, 18; 
persuaded Thomas Lincoln to 
settle in Coles County, 19; Mrs. 
Thomas Lincoln lived with family, 
133, 145, 201; children of, 145 

Sawyer, Lydia, 145 

Sears, Isaac, 38, 85 

Sharpsburg, battle of, 236 

Shaw, Aaron, 83, 171 

Shaw, James, 31 

Shaw, Lucinda, 31 

Shaw, Millis R., 31 

Shaw, William, 14 

Shelburne, Miner, 229 

Shelledy, Stephen B., 38, 87 

Shepard, Jason H., 45 

Shepherd, Mrs. Rhoda Compton, 175, 
184, 197 

Sheridan, James B., 180 

Shiloh Cemetery, on Lincoln Na- 
tional Memorial Highway, 15; land 
for, deeded, 132; grave of Thomas 



Lincoln, 132, 138-141; visited by 
Lincoln (1861) , 134-138, 203; grave 
of Mrs. Thomas Lincoln, 132, 156 

Shiloh Lincoln Memorial Club, 139, 

Shoaff, James, 213 

Shoaff, Mrs. Nancy Hanks, 3, 213, 232 

Shoaff, T. B., 232 

Shriver, William F., 212, 213, 230 

Shriver, Mrs. Mary, 212, 213 

Sixty-eighth Illinois Infantry, 223 

Sixty-second Illinois Infantry, 214 

Slocum, Gen. Henry W., 220 

Smith, Caleb B., 199, 221, 222 

Smith, Col. D. C, 223 

Smith, Hannah Pamelia Waddill, 17 

Southmayd, F. R., 45 

Speed, Joshua F., 61, 154, 208 

Speed, Mary, 65 

Springfield and Terre Haute Rail- 
road, 97 

Squires, William B., 92 

Stanton, Edwin M., 121, 215, 221, 230, 

Starkweather, Clark C, 148, 201 

Starkweather, Elisha H., 112, 120, 124 

Stelle, Nelson, 45 

Stephenson, Charles W., 20 

Stotzer Bros., 140 

Strickland, Nora, 176 

Sumerlin, Adoph, 15, 16, 32 

Sumerlin, Earl B., 16, 156 

Summer, Benjamin, 132 

Summers, Alexander, 20, 162 

Supreme Court of Illinois. 82, 83, 86, 
98, 100, 101, 102, 105, 112 

Supreme Court of the United States, 

Swedenborgian Church, 125-127 

Thomas, Prof. Simeon E., 13, 162, 

173, 185, 196 
Thompson, Richard M., 180 
Thompson, Prof. Charles M., 9, 10, 

11, 12, 15 
Townley, Wayne C, 140 
Trask, Matt, 178 
Treat, Judge Samuel H., 82, 105, 108, 

227, 230 
Tremble, Daniel, 72 
Tremble, Hiram, 17, 72, 167 
Trower, F. W., 63 
True, Edmund W., 91, 100, 180 
True, Frederick G., 180, 215 
True, James Milton, 91, 180, 214 
True, John Will, defendant in law 

suit, 101, 102; friend of Lincoln, 

102; present at Charleston debate, 

174, 175; drove Lincoln to Sulli- 
van, 186; officer in army, 214; pay- 
master, 215; note concerning, by 
Lincoln, 215 

True, Mrs. James W., 175, 185, 195 

True, Lewis C, 214 

True, Oliver, 195 

True, Simeon, 180 

Trumbull, Sen. Lyman, 158, 160, 161, 

166, 215 
Turley, Charles, 223 
Turley, Richard E., 223 
Turner, Justin G., 146 
Tuscola Review, 104, 105, 107, 108 

Underwood, Sen. Joseph R., 160 
Underwood, Judge, resignation of, 

Usher, John P., 101, 102, 180, 185, 

220, 222 

Talbot, Capt. Edward, 224, 225 

Tarbell, Ida Minerva, 5, 6, 104, 156 

Taylor, Pres. Zachary, 116, 157, 160 

Teel, George W., 84, 147 

Temple, Wayne C, 178 

Terre Haute and Alton Railroad, 

Terre Haute, Alton & St. Louis Rail- 
road, 102, 191 

Thirtieth Congress, 157 

Thomas, Benjamin P., 20, 32, 33, 37, 
50, 53, 91, 131 

Thomas, John, 60 

Wabash Point, 10, 11, 12, 16, 18, 22, 

Waddill, William G. (Wadill's Tav- 
ern and Relay House) , 17 

Wade-Davis Manifesto, 230 

Walker, J. Will, 31 

Wallace, Joseph, 67, 81 

Wallace, Gen. Lew, 183, 184 

Walls. Elizabeth, 204 

Waltham Watch Co., 232, 233 

Waltrip, Mrs. W. E., 17 

Warren, Louis A., 45, 46, 47, 55 

Washington Post, 45, 47 



Weik, Jesse W., 9, 50, 69, 72, 93, 195, 

Weir, Benjamin, 47, 48 

Wells, J., 63 

West Point Cadetship, 218, 219 

Whig Party, Lincoln's activities as a 
Whig, 38, 116, 157-160; U. F. 
Linder as a restless Whig, 116, 185; 
Lincoln's comment on 1840 elec- 
tion success, 117; Linder became a 
Whig, 124; election of 1848, 157; 
Constable left the party, 158; Lin- 
coln a liability to the party, 159; 
Clay-Fillmore Whigs, 162, 163, 164; 
Coles County Whigs, 168, 169 

White, Horace, 176, 180, 184 

Whitney, Henry Clay, reported visit 
of W. G. Greene to Thomas Lin- 
coln, 56, 57; described Thomas 
Lincoln, 57; on Lincoln's feeling 
for stepbrother, 59; described Lin- 
coln's legal aid to Thomas John- 
ston, 72; relates U. F. Linder anec- 
dote, 82; associated with Lincoln 
in railroad cases, 99; described U. 
F. Linder as an orator, 114; rode 
with Lincoln on train to Mattoon, 
174; described Lincoln's last trip 
to Coles County, 193; commented 

on Dennis Hanks and Charleston 
postmastership, 212; suggested ap- 
pointment of John Hanks, 214 

"Wide Awakes," 189 

Wiley, Eli, 120, 198, 207, 208 

Wilkinson, Mrs. Rose Linder, 117, 

Williams, Nancy Jane, see Johnston, 
Nancy Jane 

Williams, Reuben, 85 

Wilmot, Sim, 105 

Wilson, Nell, 176 

Wilson, Rufus R., 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 
91, 113 

Wilson, Judge William, 25, 83, 105, 

Woldman, Albert A., 88, 100, 118 

Wood, Lieut. Gov. John, 187 

Worley, Harvey B., 84, 169 

Wortham, Henry Clay, 148 

Wright, Beniah, 42 

Wyatt, Alden H., 213 

Yates, Gov. Richard, 216 

York-Charleston Trail, 125 

Young Men's Literary Association, 188 

Zimmerman, Elizabeth Rutherford,